tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 27, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT
rise today to discuss the f.a.a. bill. on friday, authorization for the federal aviation administration was allowed to expire. 4,000 workers placed on furlough and the airport and airways trust fund now lacks the authority to collect user fees. -- user fees that fund air traffic services, airport maintenance and other things that americans rely on. let's be clear, this should not have happened. it happened because a few members of the other body made a conscious choice to negotiate in bad faith. clear and simple. let me recap. under the able leadership of senator rockefeller, the senate again passed our long-term f.a.a. authorization in february. with a bipartisan vote of 87-8.
later, the house passed the bill but largely along party lines. in april, the senate named conferees to negotiate a final bill. however, our friends in the house have yet to appoint conferees to join us at the negotiating table. meanwhile, since 2007, we have passed 20 extensions to allow this program to continue operating while they work to negotiate a long-term solution. not a single one of those extensions have been met with controversy, not one. however, as we undertook what should have been the latest clear extension, the house unexpectedly eliminated 13 rural airports to rely on essential air service just days before the authorization expired. the house refused to reconsider and chose instead to shut down the federal aviation administration. the house seeks to save approximately .1% of overall
aviation spending by attacking essential air service. i agree with anyone who wants to control federal spending and invest in real priorities. we all do. but it simply doesn't make sense to focus on saving fractions of pennies on the dollar instead of coming to the negotiating table to hammer out long-term solutions. at the same time the house rejected an opportunity to protect our troops from exorbitant baggage fees. congressman nick ray who will introduced an amendment to the amendment which would have prohibited charging fees for bags of the armed services members while traveling on official service, especially for those checking four or fewer bags. in one instance, the airline socked a poor service member with a baggage fee of $3,000. regrettably, the house rejected this offer to protect our troops
on a party-line vote. those of us negotiating in good faith in the senate were left scratching our heads. the house would reject a clean objection to maintain .1% by attacking jobs in congress but it would reject an opportunity to protect our troops from getting gouged by baggage fees on the same bill. it doesn't make sense. later, we learned through the press that the house's erratic strategy had apparently nothing to do with potential cost savings at all, but instead these antics were about rule making by the national mediation board. this is a labor issue that has nothing to do with essential air service and nothing to do with the daily operations of the federal aviation administration. both of which would be operating right now under a clean extension. this labor issue should be worked out in a conference. the conference committee we can't have because the house has yet to name conferees. one of the rural communities the
house members chose to cut down as a political pawn is glenndive, montana. glenndive is growing in the energy sector. lots of oil and gas wells drilled. it's a huge potential new energy source. energy companies from texas and louisiana are rapidly sending people up to glenndive. hotels at the area run at near full occupancy yearround. we're working hard to quickly build housing and infrastructure in order to capitalize on this great opportunity to create much-needed jobs. today, unemployment in glenndive is half the national average. but glenndive is located 230 miles from any larger airport. glenndive needs essential air service to maintain its lifeline to national commerce and continue to grow and create jobs.
we can discuss at length the merits of air service and put it through towns like glendive. in fact, this is a sf we should have. any changes should be made as part of a thoughtful and transparent discussion with input from the folks on the ground who will be most affected. again, that is precisely what conference negotiations are for. yet again, negotiations we can't hold, why? because the house has yet to name its conferees. the house antics have halted as much as $2.5 billion in airport funding, funding that employs as many as 87,000 workers on construction projects around the country. at glacier international airport in cal -- kalispell, montana, their much-needed upgrade for a taxiway are now on hold indefinitely and so are the much-needed construction jobs this project would support. even more troubling, 4,000
mothers and fathers and breadwinners are now out of work. these are folks like prestina richardson at the air traffic control tower. over the weekend, christina wasn't able to go grocery shopping. she didn't know if she could count on her next paycheck to buy food and pay her bills. she described the pit in her stomach. she went in to clean off her desk and shut down her computer. christina told my office she was worried to help the people she had been working with. she describes the pride in working and the blow that comes when that is taken away. luckily, christina was told on tuesday that she would be able to return to work, but 4,000 other folks across the country haven't been so lucky. like most montanans, christina is one tough lady and she understands the vital importance
of essential air service to rural communities. even when she thought she had been furloughed, she stuck in there. christina contacted my office to voice her support for a clean f.a.a. extension that rejects arbitrary cuts to rural communities. i'm increasingly concerned about the nature of our political discourse. lately, it seems some folks are more focused on making 30-second sound bites than making laws. what happened with the f.a.a. bill is an example of this misguided focus. whatever the house's true reason was for suspending 4,000-plus jobs and halting construction to improve airport safety, it just wasn't right. still, i know we can do good things around here when we work together and i hold out the hope that we will return our focus back to what's important and start getting things done. it's not just here.
it's debt extension. it's a lot of major matters around here. in the meantime, we need to fix this mess. this is easier to fix, much easier. along with senator rockefeller, i introduced a clean f.a.a. extension that would put 4,000 employees back to work, let us start construction projects around the country to create jobs and improve safety of our airports and continue to fund the trust fund. then together we could continue working on a longer term solution. i urge my colleagues to support a clean extension. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. bingaman: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bingaman: mr. president, we have three separate issues facing the congress today. first, the authority of the treasury department to borrow to meet the nation's obligations will be reached on tuesday. in order fo -- in order for borrowing to continue after tuesday, congress needs to raise the debt ceiling. that's the first of the three issues. the second issue that we face is the need to help our economy to become prosperous again. unfortunately, the debate here in congress has totally lost sight of this issue, the issue of how we can grow the economy, how we can create jobs. and the third of the three issues is the need to put in place a long-term plan to reduce
the deficit and the debt. the issue of raising the debt ceiling and reducing the long-term deficit and debt have unfortunately come to be seen by many here in congress as a single issue, so i want to urge all colleagues to take a step back and to recognize first that these issues are separate and second, that failure to responsibly deal with the first of these issues -- that is, failure to raise the debt limit -- will greatly hamper our ability to deal with the other two issues that i mentioned. the failure to raise the debt limit will not return to economy to prosperity. instead, it will postpone the day when that prosperity returns. the failure to raise the debt limit will not reduce our debt
and deficit. it will add to the debt and deficit by raising interest rates for the government and for all americans. so let's review how we got here. since the beginning of this congress nearly seven months ago, the republican majority in the house has had a laser focus on one issue and that is cutting spending. and to achieve that objective, the first strategy adopted by the republican leadership in the house was to threaten a shutdown of the government unless sufficient spending cuts were agreed to. spending cuts were agreed to and at the final hour, republicans agreed to pass the bill that was needed to fund the government for the balance of the fiscal year. and by that, i mean through the 31st of september. of this year. so as soon as that crisis was
averted and the threat to close down the government was behind us, at least for a few months, the effort shifted to a new strategy and this strategy was to threaten a first-in-history default by the government on its financial obligations if enough additional spending cuts were not agreed to. that is, spending cuts in addition to what were agreed to in order to avert a shutdown of the government. the device of -- the device for bringing about that default was refusal to extend the debt ceiling when the government's borrowing authority was scheduled to be reached and that is the 2nd of august, next tuesday. we should remind ourselves of what an artificial device this is that is being used for leverage in this negotiation.
congress passes the laws that determine how much revenue the federal government collects and congress passes the laws that determine how much we obligate the government to spend. and when the revenue that we collect is less than the amount we are committed to spend, the secretary of the treasury has no alternative but to borrow money to meet the obligations that congress has taken on. so in a period like today when the government is receiving in revenues much less than is required to meet its obligatio obligations, there are two logical actions for congress to take. first, it can raise more revenue. second, it can reduce the obligations of the government. but in refuse to go allow the secretary of the treasury to borrow, we are taking neither of these logical steps. instead, we are telling the secretary of the treasury to
default on the obligations which this and previous congresses have already taken on on behalf of the american people. we're told by the secretary of the treasury that unless congress acts, he will be forced to default or renege on our obligations beginning next week, august 2. the refusal to raise the debt ceiling and the threatening of default on our obligations have achieved -- has achieved much of what republicans set out to achieve in this congress. it has precipitated a crisis, and in order to avoid that crisis, democrats have agreed to or acceded to the primary demands that the republican majority in the house have made. and what are those demands? well, there are two primary demands. one is -- the first of those demands was that all of the deficit reduction be
accomplished with cuts in spending. no revenue increases could be raised -- no revenue could be raised from the wealthiest in our society to help close this gap between revenues and spending. no loopholes could be closed. no subsidies could be eliminated in the tax code. democrats have agreed that the deficit reduction would not be accomplished with a balanced package of spending cuts and revenue increases, as the previous deficit reduction packages have been under president reagan, under president george h.w. bush and, of course, under president clinton. this deficit reduction that we are now considering would be done with spending cuts only. so that was the first demand, and it was one that democrats have acceded to. the second demand of the republican leadership was
that -- the totally arbitrary demand that the size of the increase in the debt ceiling not exceed the amount of spending cuts projected in the federal budget over the next ten years. this is a demand totally lacking in any logical justification, but again democrats have agreed in order to achieve a solution to the immediate impasse. in order to avoid the threatened default on our obligations, senator reid has put forward a proposal that would lock in, according to the congressional budget office, about about $2.2 trillion of deficit reduction over ten years, with cuts in both discretionary spending and mandatory spending. the treasury secretary would be given authority to borrow to meet the obligations that congress has undertaken for approximately another 18 months. the proposal also puts in place a bipartisan and a bicameral
committee with responsibility to present congress with legislation to further reduce the deficit. unfortunately, it appears that this proposal that senator reid has made will be opposed by many on the republican side. some say the cuts are not sufficiently deep and that they would rather push the country into default than agree to a mere $2.2 trillion in spending cuts. some others say that they want to extend the debt ceiling for a shorter period so that we can have another showdown with another threatened government default six or seven months from now. and some say that causing the federal government to default will not have the adverse consequences the secretary of the treasury has predicted and that, in fact, it will have a salutary effect on both our economy and our politics.
i strongly disagree with all of these views. i believe that a refusal to honor our obligations will have a major adverse consequence for our economy. i believe that congress should act now to raise the debt limit in order to avoid these adverse consequences, and although the proposal that senator reid has brought forward fails the test of balance between spending cuts and revenue increases which i would prefer, it is a plan i'm willing to support in order to head off a default on our nation's obligations. i understand that an additional deficit reduction will be required in the months and years ahead, but clearly the responsible course is to do what can be done today, and that is adopt the reid plan. only by doing so can we once again focus on the steps that we
the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown brown: , mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. this week we have a unique opportunity to reduce the deficit to the tune of $2.2 billion, that's $.2,000 billion dollars. to protect medicare, to protect social security, to protect medicaid and to make sure the united states of america doesn't do something we've never done, that's go into default. we can debate how we got here, we can debay how we have -- why we have -- debate how we have --
why we have this huge budget deficit. we can debate whether it's president obama's fault, whether it's george bush's fault, we can debate whether it was the recovery act or whether it was the two wars president bush didn't pay for. we can debate whether it's the health care bill or whether it's the bailout to the drug insurance company -- the health care bill of president obama's or the -- the -- the giveaway to the drug insurance -- drug and insurance companies that president bush did in the name of medicare privatization. we talk about president bush's tax cuts. we can do any of that but we can't debate, it's not a question of debate the urgency of this situation. never before, never before has the full, faith and credit of the united states of america been held hostage to a major budget agreement. in the past three decades before president obama -- so let's take him out of this picture for a minute -- in the past three decades before president obama, we've avoided default by raising the debt limit 38 times. 38 times in the last 30 years
before president obama. 34 of those times almost 90% were under republican presidents. 34 out of 38 times we did were under republican presidents. we didn't do a hostage taking. we didn't try to scare people. we simply, even if we didn't like doing it, we simply raised the debt ceiling. so it's -- as i and many of my democratic colleagues have said, we can balance the budget, as we did under president clinton. i came to office in 1992 in the house. i voted for a troph -- for a controversial budget. no republicans joined us. when he eight years of economic growth -- almost eight years of economic growth. 21 million net private-sector jobs created. and we got to >> balanced budget. we know that to do that. we do it with a balance between spending cuts and revenues, especially closing tax loopholes, giveaways to the oil companies, tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs, ax breaks for -- tax breaks for
hedge fund operators on wall street. we can close those tax loopholes, we can do spending cuts and we can do what we need to do to move towards a balanced budget. it's especially unfortunate that during those 38 times there was a free-standing vote. each time, each time it was raised, there was a free-standing vote. neither party held -- played these games. neither pai party held our natin hostage to these political games. but rather than a free-standing vote on the debt limit, we're in a last-minute scramble. democrats have said okay, we'll reach an agreement. never has one party insisted that the amount of the increase in the debt limit be offset by an equal amount of spending cuts. but we've even agreed, mr. president, to that approach. never before has one party insisted that a major budget agreement exclude -- exclude -- provisions that address revenue. we've even said yes to that, mr. president. and now, having had their demands met, the people in the party who insisted on all these conditions are saying no.
they are saying no again. the debate on the debt and the deficit has been complicated, it's been contentious, it's been angry, but a default should be unimaginable. a default should be unimaginable. a default would risk what would amount to a permanent tax hike. i hear manufacture the radicals in -- i hear many of the radicals in the house of representatives who say they'll never vote for a debt increase, as if it's something we should never, ever, ever do in a country. they -- they all talk about tax cuts but, you know, a default -- a default on a -- a default on the part of the american -- the united states of america would amount to a permanent tax hike on all americans. interest rates would rise for anyone owning -- owning a home or paying a home mortgage, applying for a home mortgage, anyone with a car loan, anyone with a college loan, credit costs for all borrowers would climb, governments at every level, businesses, nonprofits, small businesses, large businesses, credit cardholders. there would be repercussions for pension funds and money market funds that guard the retirement
savings of middle-class families. so basically everybody in the -- in the -- in the presiding officer's home state of minnesota, in my state of ohio, everybody would be afflicted with this tax increase, if you will, from higher interest rates. several states have already been placed on a credit watch. every state would be hurt by a federal default, which is why governors of both parties are saying make a deal, get to this. this is not alarmist thinking. there's a reason ronald reagan went to congress 18 times to raise the debt ceiling. here's what he said. president reagan said, "the full consequences of a default, or even the serious prospect of a default" -- that's where we are right now, in a serious prospect of default -- "by the united states of america are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. denigration of the full faith and cift the united states of -- credit of the united states of america would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar." end of quote, mr. president.
i don't know -- none of us is being alarmist because we really don't know but we know that people whom most americans respect -- president reagan, president clinton, others who have asked for a debt ceiling increase, economists, business people -- we know that nobody knows for sure what would happen, but nobody's ever wanted to take that risk. we've always paid our bills. default could affect ohioans receiving medicare and social security. it could affect veterans in hospitals and universities. president obama has said that he can't guarantee payments to senior citizens, to bondholders, to other obligations of the united states of america. you cannot, mr. president, you cannot fake -- you cannot fake cash flow. these are real consequences. when it comes to jobs, to seniors living on fixed income, in the midst of an economy -- economic growth as fragile as is ours, lawmakers ought to just suspend their politics. today the harm of inaction would be immense. president obama put several
proposals forward to reduce the deficit in a big way modeled after these bipartisan commissions, where there's been pretty good bipartisan agreeme agreement. but efforts to forge a grand compromise, bringing the deficit down by $4 trillion, have been abandoned by republican leaders over and over. i -- i have not supported every detail in these grand compromise efforts. i don't want to do anything to undermine medicare or social security or medicaid, programs that have worked for generations now and programs that millions of ohioans depend on, for middletown to ashtaboula to toledo and gallipolis. that's because i wanted a more balanced approach. i know the presiding officer did too. but as days and weeks and weeks and months go by, we're now only days away from default. we're simply running out of time. that's what the senate bill is about, protecting us from default. the spirit of continued compromise again, the majority leader has come forth with a plan to reduce the deficit by
$2.2 trillion. it's truly a compromise because it meets the republicans' main criteria, it contains spending cuts to roughly match the debt ceiling increase through 2012. the spending cuts in the reid plans are ones that republicans have previously agreed to. it contains no revenue increases. all three of those have been what republicans asked for but now it's not good enough. what do they want to do when we've basically met their demands? beyond all that this compromise that we have offered mostly what they have asked for contains an important priority of mine. not one of the republicans, to be sure, and that is that we protect social security and medicare and medicaid. i know that major republican budgets, the ryan budget, the so-called ryan budget, the republican house budget, it -- it undercut our major important programs, medicare and medicaid especially. we know that the so-called cut,
cap and balance proposal that the republicans have passed that is being voted on here, that those didn't protect medicare, medicaid, social security, so we know republicans want to go after those programs. under this compromise, we have been able to protect that. but, mr. president, we need to make sure that we put country ahead of party, national interests above partisanship. that's why we have been willing to compromise. speaker boehner's plan is being revised, but so far it provides significantly less than the savings in the reid proposal. by design, the boehner plan would put us back in this situation in a few months. what rational economist, what responsible elected official, what business person in st. paul or columbus, in rochester or mansfield, what businessperson would say let's put the united states of america in this situation again in six months? we know what's happened in this
country in the last month or so. as we approach default, as the public -- as businesses particularly watch the way this is being debated and how this is being handled, people are -- are way less certain, people are way more concerned about our ability to raise the debt ceiling and keep us out of default, businesses are holding onto their cash reserves because of their -- because they are not willing to invest now because they don't want this to happen, so why do we want to go through this again in six months, mr. president? why would we possibly think this is a good thing for the united states of america, for people in chill i cot -- chilicothe and dayton, in wasian and bowling green, why would we want businesses and our country to go through this again in six months? we have got to get this done with. we have got to raise the debt ceiling, keep us out of default. we need to make sure that we focus on deficit reduction and
put our efforts into job creation. people all over my state, when i'm in dayton, when i'm in springfield, when i'm in kay hoeing a -- cayahoga county or mahoney county as this last weekend, people want to focus on job growth. we need to raise the debt ceiling, keep us out of default. we mostly need to make sure that we move forward on job creation. we prevent a default, it reduces the deficit with the reid plan. a critical imperative for our children o'you're grandchildren. it protects medicare and social security and medicaid. my office, mr. president, is being swamped with calls and emails from ohioans who simply can't believe we're this close to default. within the week, congress must pass, the president must sign an increase in the debt ceiling. it's essential this we want to prevent an absolutely unnecessary -- an absolutely uncalled for yet catastrophic default. it's necessary to move on to address the issues of jobs. too many -- too many recent
college graduates, too many people have been in the work force for many years, too many of our people are unemployed and looking for jobs. that's where our focus needs to be. we need to pass the reid plan, work on deficit reduction and focus on job creation. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado is recognized. mr. udall: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, i come to the floor today as i think many of my colleagues have to speak to the topic at hand, which is the debt ceiling debate that we're having here in the congress of the united states, and i've got to tell you, i think americans across the country are looking at us today with disbelief, anxiety and i think rightly anger. they awoke this morning hoping to find that cooler heads had prevailed and that all of us here were working together on a plan that keeps our country from default and our economy from a
looming collapse, and instead the headlines read that the speaker of the house was again refusing to negotiate and that he is in fact delaying action in the house because of republican upheaval against his own plan. i have to say even if the house of representatives passed a bill preventing default this evening, within hours, we would still be pushing our country right up to the ledge of an economic catastrophe. in other words, what i'm saying, mr. president, is that even though economists, market analysts, business leaders, credit rating agencies, world leaders and the american people are begging us to find an agreement to avoid default on our debt obligations, we're no further along today than we have been in the many weeks we have been debating this issue. now, i think as the presiding officer knows, as a former member of the house, i take no pleasure in criticizing the people's house, but it does take
two to tango and when it comes to courting the house of representatives, it feels like they have got one shoe nailed to the dance floor. and i can't figure out for the life of me what it's going to take to reach an agreement on behalf of the american people. the house of representatives just can't take yes for an answer. now, the real problem, at least in my estimation, seems to be that a small group of people are set on running up the political score rather than doing the right thing for our country, and if that's the case, now is the time to finally come to the table. here is the truth. many of us here are trying to prevent the economy, our economy, from driving off a cliff, but others seem to be busy cutting the brake lines. on that point, i was really proud of the senate and the democrats and republicans who came together on the bipartisan
bowles-simpson commission and came up with a plan on reducing the deficit. they were willing to be part of the solution. the bowles-simpson commission recommended taking important but difficult steps to reduce our debt by $4 trillion over the next decade. that plan is the right thing to do for the country, and despite the significant political risks attached to taking those positions, senators in both parties were willing to support it. the house members, on the other hand, when the fiscal commission offered them the bipartisan deficit-reduction plan, they walked away. both democrats and republicans, to be fair. but unfortunately this has become a pattern. when vice president joe biden and house majority leader eric cantor were close finally to reaching an agreement on a deficit-reduction plan, it was the house republicans who walked away. when president obama and speaker
boehner sought to strike a grand bargain, to do something great for the country, the house walked away. president obama likened this to being left at the altar, but i can't think of any description for this that's more apt than irresponsible. now, for my friends and my colleagues who know me, i'm not quick to anger but i got to say, time isn't our friend here and we can't delay action any longer. i was pleased to see senator alexander, the third ranking republican in the senate, say last night -- quote -- "what would be best, instead of having a republican plan competing with a democratic plan, would be to have the speaker, senator reid, and senator mcconnell recommend to us a single plan." now, i understand the senate leaders are speaking frequently and i have all the faith in the
world that the senate could work this problem out, but that's only half the problem. we need statesmen, we need patriots, we need problem solvers over in the house to emerge. campaign politics and partisan talking points don't take courage. now is the time for courage and leadership. instead of going back to the drawing board on the boehner plan, we need to refocus our efforts on a plan that meets three tests. such a plan has to, number one, raise the debt limit to avoid a first-ever federal government default. two, provide enough certainty to investors that america pay its bills to stave off a downgrade in our credit rating. and three, reduce the deficit number that we can begin the hard work to get our fiscal house in order.
the reid plan, in my estimation, achieves each of those goals, and i'm disappointed that we couldn't all come together on a larger $4 trillion to $5 trillion deficit-reduction package that would be both bipartisan and comprehensive. the reid plan adequately addresses the most pressing issues that confront us, which are preventing a default and staving off a downgrade in our credit rating. the boehner plan, on the other hand, is only a short-term fix, mr. president, and a host of economic forecasters and business leaders have said it would almost certainly lead to a drown -- to a downgrade in our, america's, credit rating, which would raise interest rates, would sabotage seniors' retirement savings, and increase consumer costs on almost every american. bank of america, standard & poor's, j.p. morgan chase, and
other major players have all warned us that future economic instability and short-term political solutions will almost certainly lead to a downgrade in our credit rating. that is some serious, serious business, mr. president. and what's sad about all of this is that the unstable political climate, which one observer called amateur hour on capitol hill, itself may lead to a downgrade. now, i respect the speaker's desire to go back to the drawing board to try and secure more republican votes, but the fact of the matter is, we don't have time. the reid plan is ready to go and it meets the three-part test that i laid out. and, in fact, the congressional budget office stated that the reid plan reduces the deficit by twice as much as the house republican plan.
and as reported this morning, in the battle of budget scores, the senate democrats' deficit-reduction bill is the clear winner thus far. mr. president, our economy has been in critical condition and i think we're feeling recently that it's beginning to come back to life, that we've been nursing it back to health, and the last thing we need is a self-inflicted heart attack caused by an overdose of partisanship. people wonder why we just can't get it done. i know the presiding officer is a mountain climber, as am i, and we're both i guess i could say old mountain climbers, in more ways than one, and i can tell you that there's some similarities between attempting to climb the world's highest peaks and our work here in washington. but the difference seems to be, especially when the going gets tough here on capitol hill, is that not only are you trying to conquer mountainous and
challenging and difficult terrain, you seem to have a team of saboteur heres who are trying to -- saboteurs here who are trying to push the rest of us off the mountain as we're trying to climb it. the scots have a saying, it isn't the fall that hurts, it's the sudden stop at the bottom. and i can tell you, if we don't raise the debt ceiling, that's going to involve a sudden stop at the bot for all of us. -- bottom for all of us. the people of colorado have told me -- and i respect the rest of the nation feels this way -- that they don't care who wins politically. frankly, i don't care who wins politically either. what i care about is passing legislation that will stave off government default and a downgrade in our nation's credit rating. and at this point, the reid plan is the only option that meets that criteria. let's get it done. let's get it done. mr. president, as i close, i
want to change the tone of my remarks a little bit because there are wonderful people here who work on capitol hill and make a difference day in and day out, and i wanted to recognize hillary daniels, who's been one of my budget and appropriations legislative assistants, who joined my team when i first came to the senate three years ago. she's a native of colorado's western slope, the great county of mesa county and the town of grand junction, and she's going to be leaving my office next month to go to law school at washington university in st. louis, missouri. she's been an invaluable team member and i can speak for my entire staff when i say we're both excited for her to take this next step in developing her career and i am very grateful for the guidance that she's given me over the last few yearsmenyears.
mr. president, it's for the hillary daniels of the world, who will be leaders of our country in the next decade and the decade of that, that i think we owe an obligation to getting this job done as soon as we possibly can, assuring the markets the full faith and credit of the united states will be preserved and protected and nurtured. and, mr. president, let's turn back to job one here, which is to focus on our economy and job creation. the longer we're stalled out in a political crisis of our own making, the less that we're concerned and focused on putting the american people back to work. mr. president, thank you for your interest, thank you for your attention. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. mr. kirk: mr. president, i just filed an amendment to s. 1323 to
brac the spectrum. this would give us the maximum auction revenue and access to the spectrum for economic development and deficit reduction and i'm proud to have the amendment endorsed by americans for tax reform. it is very important for the congress to authorize spectrum incentive auctions. while we shall protect broadcasters that choose -- we should protect broadcasters that choose not to participate in such auctions and their customers to rely on over-the-air broadcast for entertainment and public emergency information, incentive auctions would free up much-needed spectrum for the civilian side and making sure that broadband communications are fully available in the united states. it should be, in short, the policy of the united states to offer the widest amount of broadband spectrum to empower the 21st century economy here. cell phones were incent in the united states -- invented in the united states.
in fact, mostly in my home state of illinois. and making sure that this is the country where not just 1go, 2 go and 3 go were invented -- 1 g, 2g and 3g were invented and deployed but to also make sure that 5g, 6g and 7g are also deployed in the united states and not in countries like china or india. now, according to the federal communications commission, the u.s. treasury has already collected $50 billion in spectrum receipts since 1993. senator reid's plan does authorize such auctions but it's missing a key element to ensure that they are very successful. unfortunately, like many other agencies in the administration, the federal communications commissions have worked to promulgate regulations that stifle innovation and economic growth. it's important for congress to prohibit the f.c.c. from establishing new similar rules or conditions that outside -- that are outside the scope of
technical, ethical or geographic qualifications. such conditions, for example, a net neutrality provision, will only serve to depress the market value of the spectrum, therefore, decreasing government revenues and lowering our ability to reduce the deficit in this way. now, one recent study found that congress has tremendous discretion in the amount of proceeds that it could raise in the exchange for the spectrum -- quote -- "because the amount of money that an auction can raise for the u.s. treasury and the government is impacted, at least in part by controllable decisions on how the action configures the spectrum for sale and the conditions imposed on it." the study analyzed a previous spectrum auction to estimate potential receipts of future auctions based on conditions the f.c.c. may or may not impose.
researchers found that a -- the full auction potential of the broadcast spectrum with no conditions imposed would raise as much as $90 billion. whereas the same auction with heavy and unappealing conditio conditions, such as net neutrality, would only raise $26 billion. that's a difference of $6 $65 billion we could raise to lower our deficit 250% more in funds with an incentive auction if we ensure that the f.c.c. does not impose market-killing restrictions. now, my proposal would place limits on the f.c.c. in addition to establishing the number of other prohibitions to make sure that the f.c.c. doesn't artificially reduce the spectrum value to lower our deficit. the kirk amendment would prohibit the f.c.c. from restricting participation -- would restrict participants in
any auction and from proscribing certain rates and terms and services that may be offered by bidders in order to encourage the most robust participation and license bidding. to avoid future devaluation of spectrum licenses, the amendment would also prohibit the f.c.c. from changing the rules of the game after an auction was completed. now, by simply selling spectrum voluntarily given up by broadcasters is not enough to solve our credit crunch. we know that wireless subscribership in the united states has increased more than 400% in the last 15 years and experts expect mobile data traffic to be 35 times higher in 2014 than it was just back in 2009. yet only 22% of all viable wireless frequencies are licensed for mobile broadband.
industry experts anticipate spectrum will be exhausted in the most populous markets by 2014. such -- such a restriction then would stunt wireless and other technological development in the united states because we will not have enough band width to continue innovating. internet service will then slow and calls will be dropped. we should not let this scenario unfold. we should reach our full technological potential because broadband development is a key job creator for the 21st century. now, according to one estimate, the information and communications industry contributed more than $1.7 trillion to the u.s. gross domestic product in 2009 or over 12% of our total national inco income. another study found that broadband provides additional annual consumer benefits of roughly $32 billion a year.
it's widely acknowledged that wireless broadband also generates productivity gains of approximately $28 billion annually, and one cost estimate even puts productivity gains for the development and use of wireless broadband at almost $860 billion in 2016. in my own state of illinois, a study indicates that sphraisks increased productivity will reach about $5.8 billion in five years. this demonstrates that every sector of our economy benefits from wireless development. for example, broadband development will vastly improve health care services for seniors. one study finds that reduced medical costs reduced costs of institutionizallized living and increased utput by seniors will save about $927 billion between
2005 and 2030. advancements in wireless technologies aimed to reduce the burden on chronically ill by providing remote monitoring of medical functions and to save lives through public safety interoperable networks. yet very little of this will be achievable unless we make more spectrum available to the civilian sector. now, not surprisingly, the federal government itself is the largest and most suborn squatter on the spectrum. according to the technology policy institute, the government currently has exclusive or shared ownership of more than half of the ideal spectrum for wireless development. much of the spectrum isn't even being used or used efficiently by the government. unfortunately, it's largely unknown how exactly federal agencies and departments are using the spectrum and which
spectrum we could better use on the civilian side. my amendment, in short, would establish a process eye dent it cal to the successful -- identical to the successful base and realignment commission to determine which sped spectrum -- which federal spectrum could be offered. while the government has much of this authority, it consistently fails to utilize it. a brac-like commission for the spectrum is a key model for its relow cakes and would help -- relocation and would help accelerate the development of broadband in the united states without the standard congressional roadblocks that would inhibit development. the amendment also provides assurances that the government will vacate its spectrum once the process is complete and requires the office of management and budget to intervene in the relocation process if agencies are failing to comply with the relocation plans and penalizing agencies if
they don't meet the brac time lines. the kirk amendment would provide the telecommunication telecommuy with a certain path forward for reliably clear spectrum to advance employment in the united states through wireless advancements. now, i urge congressional leaders to consider this proposal. it comes from neither republican nor democratic side. it is one of the most valuable assets that the government is currently squatting on, and it could be part of an overall deficit-reduction plan totaling upwards of $90 billion. but i think that benefit understates the true potential here. because if we set a goal of the united states being the country that offers the most broadband wireless spectrum, then we ensure that this critical 21st century industry remain in the united states and that the pace ofen knowvation in wireless
always is fastest in america as opposed to asia or europe. that's why i put the administration -- or, the amendment forward. i would seek its adoption as part of our deficit negotiations. and with that, mr. president, i would yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. now, senate majority leader harry reid has present add plan to address our deficits and to end the debt ceiling impasse which threatens to cripple our economy. the treasury is projected to run out of money next week and time is running short. senator reid has shown great leadership with his pragmatic package. leader reid's proposal would give the treasury the authority to ensure that the united states
does not default on its debt twhiel at the same time cutting $2.7 trillion from our budget. the unprecedented set of cuts would have a significant affect on balancing our budget and restoring fiscal sustainablety to the federal government. i want to highlight one key thing. unlike the house republican budget and unlike the so-called cut, cap, and balance plan, leader reid's plan will preserve social security, medicare, and medicaid. protecting social security and medicare benefits is particularly important. the republicans have long coveted social security and wanted to turn it over to wall street. george bush tried and failed to do this because the american people wanted none of it. but they tried. the house republican budget attacked medicare, effectively turning it over to the private health insurance industry in ten
years. when the american people found out this was hidden in the republican budget, they want t y wanted none of it. huge majorities disapproved of the republican budget's attack on medicare. but instead of relenting, the republicans came back with cut, cap, and balance. hidden behind that slogan was an even worse attack on medicare. the house budget would have raised seniors' costs more than $6,000 a year, cut, cap, and balance would have gone $2,500 beyond that. cut, cap, and kill medicare was a better name for it. against that relentless republican effort to go against of the will of the american people and kill off medicare, leader reid's proposal protects this vital program and the freedom and security it provides to american families. now, make no mistake about it our deficit-reduction plan will not be easy. it will cut discretionary
spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. these budget reductions will require some tough but necessary choices. the plan would also count for an accelerate winddown of u.s. forces in iraq and afghanistan, saving $1 trillion in the process. our troops in the middle east deserve our admiration and praise for so successfully carrying out their missions. we must, however, continue to press for a strategy that will bring our troops home as soon as we safely can. the reid deficit plan would find an additional $40 billion in savings by cutting fraud and abuse in tax compliance and a number of non-defense federal programs and $60 billion in other savings, including cutting unnecessary spending on agricultural subsidies and auctioning off electromagnetic spectrum that the government currently holds. finally, by cutting the government by over $2 trillion, we'll have to borrow less money
than anticipated and that will save an additional $400 million -- sorry, $400 billion in projected interest costs. in total, the senate democratic plan on which we will vote would cut the deficits by $2.7 trillion over the next ten years. while senator reid's proposal would not address the tax gimmicks and loopholes throughout our tax code that help favor the well-connected, this omission does not mean that democrats have given up on ensuring that there is shared sacrifice as we work to balance the budget. instead, this package acknowledges the political realities of the moment. many house republicans have flatly refused to entertain raising any revenues, not one tax loophole, no cutting of taxpayer subsidies to profitable oil companies, no closing down of offshore tax havens. that is wrong, and the reid
package reserves the tax side of budget reform for another day. we look forward to a robust discussion in the weeks and months ahead over republican priorities that put special interest loopholes ahead of the interests of american families and ahead of the interests of the american economy. the reid plan would establish a bipartisan commission to recommend budget changes, with recommendations guaranteed an up-or-down vote in both houses of congress before the endle of the year. these recommendations should focus on cutting the unjustifiable tax give washings the tax earmarks that allow profitable companies to avoid taxes entirely and permit millionaires and billionaires to pay lower effective tax rates than do middle-income families. the reid plan cuts $2.7 trillion
from the budget, greater than the amount by which the debt limit would be increased. and it leaves tax reform for the next round of budget reform. but it doesn't yield to the republican attack on social security, medicare, or medicaid. i hope that republicans in the senate and the house will appreciate the balance of senator reid's approach and support it. but what if they don't? the house is in disarray. the speaker does not appear to have the votes. some of the extremists won't take "yes" for an answer. and some of the most extreme appear to relish the prospect of america's economy colliding with the debt ceiling. so let's consider what should occur if congress fails to lift the debt ceiling. congress will have sent president obama three different messages, and they create an irreconcilable conflict. think about it. message one is, we want you to
spend money on all these things, we want you to conduct our wars and our national defense and we want you to send out social security checks, we want you to pay the doctors and the hospitals who provide medicare services, we want you to keep guards on our borders and in our prisons, keep air traffic controllers in the towers, run the rest of the federal government, and we tell the president to do that by passing laws. it is by law that the president does these things. message two that we send is, here's the money that we will allow you to collect for the treasury to pay for all those things. again, it is by law that we authorize the president to collect that money for the treasury. by law. there is a slight problem -- the things that we've instructed the president to do by law add up to a lot more expense than the money by law we've allowed the executive branch to collect.
so the executive branch has 4 to borrow. and borrow they have. up to $14 trillion. and now, if we don't lift the debt ceiling, we send message three: don't borrow any more. we don't change message one and we don't change message two. we just add message three: don't borrow any more. as anyone can see, there's no way to reconcile those three instructions. one, by law, we tell the executive branch to send out all these checks and make all these payments. two, by law, we a ppropriate too little money to pay for what we've told the executive branch to do. and, three, by larks we will tell the executive branch of government to not borrow the difference p. they sends a mixed signal. do this by here's not enough money and don't borrow. this is irresponsible and it is
bad government. if congress wants to stop paying the troops, stop send out social security checks, shut our agencies of the federal government, or defund medicare, we should have a proper debate and say so and be responsible for it. but we haven't. and that failure creates an impossible situation for the executive branch under our constitutional principles of separation of powers. remember why officials in the executive branch pay the soldiers and contractors who support our war efforts, because congress has told them. to. congress has the power of the purse. remember why the executive branch send out social security checks and payments to doctors and hospitals for providing medicare services. because congress has told them to. congress has the power of the purse. remember why the president pays the salaries of border patrol
and prison guards and air traffic croarls and f.b.i. agents and staff at other veterans' hospitals. because congress has told him to do that. congress holds the power of the purse. and who is responsible for not giving the president enough money to pay for all of this? for forcing the treasury to borrow? congress has set how much the executive branch can collect, because congress has that power of the purse. and now we're telling the president, do all that we have told you to do, but without enough money and now don't borrow. well, we all learned in civics class that congress has the power to make laws and the power of the purse. we learned that the president has the solemn obligation to faithfully execute the laws congress has passed. that is the basic structure of american government. outside of a few narrow and specific areas that are assigned
to exclusive judicial authority by the our constitution, the constitutional rule is clear: congress instructs the president, by law, what to do, and the president faithfully executes those laws. but what happens if congress won't instruct clearly? what happens under our constitution when faithfully executing one law congress has passed requires the president to fail to faithfully execute other laws? how can the president faithfully execute i are reconcileably -- irreconcileably conflicting instructions from congress. as a matter of constitutional principle, there is only one logical solution i can see to this constitutional predicament which congress has created. when the matter is sufficiently grave to merit the president's attention and when congress has
sent irreconcilable messages for the president to faithfully execute, a zone of executive discretion must necessarily open to allow the president to make the best decisions for the american people in the area where congress has sent those irreconcilable mixed signals. of course the instant that congress resolves its conflicting signals, the instant that congress stops speak out of both sides of its mouth, the instant that congress sends a clear direction that, zone of executive discretion disappears. congress has the power here. congress makes the laws. congress controls the purse. whatever fiscal path congress instructs the president to embark on, he must faithfully execute that instruction from congress. but congress can't put the
president in the untenable position of having to fail in the faithful execution of one set of laws in order to faithfully execute another. and that's exactly where it seems to me we put the president if we fail to lift the debt ceiling. the damage to the country from such a failure would be profound. at least 40 cents of every federal dollar would suddenly stop flowing into the economy. considering what would have to be done with the remaining 60 cents, it's not very likely that the federal regulatory process would keep running. that means every job in the country depending on a federal permit or federal approval or a federal grant or a federal contract would likely grind to a halt. and there would be a jump in interest rates that would hit federal, state, municipal, corporate and family budgets. a lot of other stuff might also
go wrong, mr. president, but those three are a bare minimum, and they alone constitute a brutal shock to our struggling economy. the damage would be grave. bad enough if congress instructed the president to do this kind of damage, but do we really expect him to do that sort of damage without our clear instruction? the scale of this damage lights up in sharp contrast to constitutional predicament congress would create through congress's failure and inaction to send clear direction. the 14th amendment provisions that the public debt of the united states of america shall not be questioned may or may not be controlling here. that specific amendment is not my point. my point is a more basic one. how, under our separated powers, when congress gives conflicting directives does the president faithfully execute those
conflicting directives? the conflicting directives problem is ultimately a problem for congress to solve, but until congress sorts itself out and gives a clear directive, all that can be constitutionally expected of the president is to do the best he can for the country. he cannot faithfully execute conflicting directives. in a sense, conflicting directives by congress are a form of abdication by congress. an abdication of the duty imposed on congress by article 1 of the constitution to make and pass laws. it is reasonable and proper to infer that the constitutional duty of congress to make and pass laws implies that the congress will make and pass laws that are capable of faithful execution by the executive. mr. president, i'm on my final page. i would ask to extend my remarks for one minute, with unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: the duty of
congress to make and pass laws implies that congress will make and pass laws capable of faithful execution by the executive. a congress that cannot meet that standard is in no position to complain that the executive branch has usurped its authority. more to the point, the constitutional cure is always right in congress's hands. sort out your differences. give the executive branch the direct it is congress's duty to provide. to me, at least, this is a reading of the separation of powers in the united states constitution that makes sense, that is consistent with the underlying principles of that great document, that is practical and workable and that allows for governance rather than paralysis in circumstances when congressional disfunctions deprives the president of the clear legislative direction that by clear implication is congress's duty to provide. i hope, mr. president, before we
pitch over the looming precipice the executive branch gives these views thoughtful consideration and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania is recognized. a senator: thank you, mr. president. i too want to address the issue of the pending debt limit. toomr. toomey: and although the president's most recent speech on this did not give me great cause for confidence, i hope he will drop his insistence on the huge tax increase and will make for the meaningful spending reforms we need and i hope he'll drop his opposition to putting our budget on a path to balance. that's the big item i think we need in this debate. i think we ought to be willing to raise the debt limit as i am if in return for that we would have the commitment of the president to put us on a path to a balanced budget as president clinton committed to and achieved with a republican congress back in 1995.
so i hope that we will reach an agreement that solves the underlying problem prior to august 2. but i'm here this afternoon because i think we all have to acknowledge that we are late in the process, and i think it's indisputable that there is at least a possibility that august 2 will arrive without having raised the debt ceiling whatever our personal preferences might be about that. in my view, since that is a possibility, it's essential that the federal government have a plan for what we will do if those circumstances arise. and specifically, what is going to have to happen is the government will have to spend some period of time -- probably a very brief time, but some period of time nevertheless -- operating exclusively on the ongoing tax revenue that will be coming in without the ability to go out and borrow additional money. and that means necessarily that somebody's got to make decisions about prioritizing payments by some criteria that somebody is going to come up with.
and rather than simply wait and stumble into this period and then discover what somebody has come up with, i think we ought to lay out a plan. and so that is what my recently introduced legislation is meant to do. now some of us have been making this argument for a long time that, we saw this day coming. we have known for a long time that we would face a difficult time raising this debt ceiling, and it's always been possible that we wouldn't get it done by august 2. so i've been arguing that we ought to have this plan. unfortunately, the administration has persisted in denying that it's even possible to prioritize, which is ridiculous. it's going to happen. and they've persisted in predicting that we're going to default on our bonds if we go past august 2 without having raised the debt ceiling. in a letter to congress, treasury secretary geithner said -- and i quote -- "this would be an unprecedented event in american history. a default would inflict catastrophic, far-reaching damage on our nation's economy." president obama said in may of
this year, if investors around the world thought the full faith and credit of the united states was not being backed up, if they thought we might renege on our i.o.u.'s it could unravel the entire financial system. mr. president, these are scare tactics. these things need not happen. i'm afraid that they're meant to intimidate members of congress into voting for a debt limit increase without the underlying reforms, spending cuts that the president resists. i think it's irresponsible to make these suggestions because it's entirely within the power of the administration to avoid a catastrophic default even if the debt limit is not raised. and now we have published reports that treasury officials are calling, making private phone calls to senior executives at big banks informing them that the treasury will not allow a default, will choose not to default on our bonds. well, i think they shouldn't default on our bonds, but it's all well and good to tell the big banks this.
how about ordinary americans who are wondering what about their savings that are invested in treasuries? what about social security stphaeuplts this kind of uncertainty i think is unacceptable. that is why we've introduced a bill called ensuring the full faith and credit of the united states and protecting america's soldiers and seniors act. we now have over 35 cosponsors in the house. the bill would simply instruct the treasury secretary that in the event however unlikely that the debt ceiling is not raised prior to august 2 that they make certain obligations priorities so that they will be paid in full, on time, and without delay. those three priorities are interest on our debt so that we will not default and will not plunge our country into some kind of economic chaos, number one. number two, social security payments because millions of senior citizens, including my parents, depend on social security payments. they've earned that benefit by virtue of the payments they made. we can and we must honor that obligation. and payroll for active-duty
personnel because those who are risking their lives for us deserve this certainty. the fact is there are far more than enough resources to make these payments, as this chart illustrates. the green barre tphrebgts the minimum troeflgts tphaoul expected -- the green barre tphrebgts the minimum total revenue expected to come in in august. these aren't my numbers. these come from the bipartisan policy center, and they illustrate clear that we have the ability to pay these items and many others. now let me be very clear. i'm not suggesting that this is a desirable outcome. i'm not suggesting that this bill is a -- a senator: mr. president? mr. reid: mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: will the senator yield? mr. toomey: i'd be happy to yield. mr. reid: i appreciate it very much. i'm sore to -- i'm sorry to, and i ask unanimous consent that my friend's statement not appear
interrupted in the record but i have a unanimous consent request i need to do prior to 2:00. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: pursuant to the order of july 21, 2011 after having notified the republican leader, i ask that we proceed at 2:00 p.m. today to executive session for the consideration of calendar number 276, robert s.muir to be director of the federal bureau of investigation. it is my understanding this debate is to take two hours. is that true? the presiding officer: under the order of july 21, the senator is correct. mr. reid: i express my appreciation to my friend for allowing me to interrupt him. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. the majority leader has the authority under that order. mr. reid: at 2:00 we will move to this? the presiding officer: that is
correct. the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i was close to my conclusion. let me wrap up by saying this. again, this chart demonstrates, it illustrates, i should say, that there clearly are more than enough financial resources that will be coming into the treasury day in and day out in the form of ongoing tax revenue to easily be able to afford interest on our debt to avoid a default, social security payments to our seniors so they can be assured of the income they depend on and active duty military pay with a great deal left over. these are not my numbers. these come independently verified by many organizations including the bipartisan policy center. let me stress that this bill is not meant as a substitute for raising the debt limit. what it is, it's a mechanism for minimizing the disruption that might otherwise occur if the debt limit is not raised prior to august 2. it's my hope that this legislation never need to be implemented, but i believe that it would be irresponsible for us
mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask that the call for the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination: mr. leahy: mr. president? the clerk: nomination: department of justice. robert s. mueller, iii, to be director of the federal bureau of investigation. the presiding officer: the snr from vermont is recognized. mr. leahy: before i begin, unless all time is yielded back, we have two hours on this debate. i would ask consent that any quorum calls during that two hours be charged equally to both
sides. mr. president, today the senate is going to consider the president's nomination of robert mueller to be -- to continue serving as the director of the federal bureau of investigation. this is consistent with the president's may 12, 2011, request that the congress pass legislation to enable the director to continue serving in light of the leadership transitiotransitions at severaly national security agencies. prior to his request, i had discussed this with president obama. one of the things he noted was that we were going to have a new secretary of defense, a new director of the c.i.a., and he did not want to have yet a third key member of the national security team be replaced at this time. to the president's request, even though -- or to the president's
-- to actually to applaud the president on this, he could have taken another route and said, i'm going to name someone somebody who will serve ten years, beyond any time that the president might be in office. he said, let's do what he felt was the best for the country and extend director mueller for two years. now, with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaching and with a continuing threat from al qaeda, we find our self facing unique circumstances. we need leadership, stability, and continuity at the f.b.i. while the president makes shrifts to his national security team. i have a met with the president and hearing his request, i immediately went to work with a bipartisan group of senators to draft and introduce a bill to create a one-time exception to the statute which we have that limits the term of the f.b.i.
director to ten years. i worked in a bipartisan manner to hold a hearing and report the legislation to the full senate on june 16, 2011. worked in such a way that could not be seen as a democratic or republican bill. it was bipartisan. unfortunately, it then took a month to get consent from the other side to consider the bill. when we did, the senate was able to pass a version of it on july 21. the house of representatives, to their credit, followed suit on july 25. the president of the united states signed our bill into law yesterday. now, the president's nomination of director mueller shows there was never any effort to impose a legislative appointment upon the president. the request to extend director mueller originated with the president, not congress, nor was it director mueller's idea.
to his credit, though he and his family had planned to be able to leave the directorship of the f.b.i., the president prevailed on director mueller for the good of the country, and the muellers -- director and mrs. mueller are altering their plans to answer the call of the country. incidentally, i don't think any disclosed anything by saying that in my discussions with the president when he was talking about extending this, and i asked him how does director mueller feel about this? he said, i haven't talked with him yet. he is a good, loyal american, a good marine. he'll answer the call. that's precisely what he did.
when we passed our legislation, i did insist that we include an unanimous consent agreement to expeexpedite consideration of ts lesmghtlegislation. so now we do have it up. the majority leader followed that. we called it up. and we'll vote. some ask why i insisted ogee such an unanimous consent agreement. did i did to prevent a recurrence of the delays and obstructions that have been used to complicate consideration of so many of the president's nominations, especially in the area of national security, like the deputy attorney general or the assistant attorney general for national security and so many others. on the one hand people speak on the floor how we must protect the security of the united states. then at the same time they delay and delay and delay the people
the president of the united states needs in place to protect our security. the irony to that after they've been held up month after month after month and hen they pass overwhelmingly in this body. in fact, there's even a hold originally on the legislation making director mueller's nomination possible. but now that's behind us, the senate can vote to reconfirm director muller to a new dwo-year term before the august 2 deadline and avoid any lapse in leadership at the f.b.i. let me speak a little bit about the director. he took over as f.b.i. director just days before the attacks of september 11, 2011 and since then he is years of seen and guided bureau to a major tran formation and evolution. of course any major transformation, there have been problems. but the director has
consistently displayed professionalism in increasing the nation's security while still carrying out the bureau's essential law enforcement responsibilities. so i applaud director mueller's commitment to ensuring the f.b.i. add hears to the values and freedoms that americans hold dear while at the same time vigorously pursuing important law enforcement and national security objectives. t-as chairman oas chairntion i o conduct vigorous oversight of the f.b.i. i'll work with the director on these important issues. oversight is one of congress's most important responsibilities. for example, i on june 17, i wrt letter to director mueller about the proposed changes in the f.b.i.'s revised initiative, investigations and operations. i remain committed to ensuring this resighsed guide provides
the f.b.i. with the latitude it needs to carry out its duties. while not infringing on the civil liberties of americans and ensuring the judiciary committee and public are kept informed. -- of its emblem facing. i'll continue to monitor the implementation of the u.s.a. patriot act which congress extended this past may. at the start of the congress, i introduced legislation that would have extended the three expiring provisions of the u.s.a. patriot act while improving oversight -- something we should do -- and promoting transparency and expanding privacy and civil liberties, safeguards in current law. but, unfortunately, despis despe fact that that legislation was reported favorably by the judiciary committee, it was never allowed to receive an up-or-down vote during the debate to extend the expired provisions of the u.s.a. patriot act. nonetheless, i will work with
the director and the department of justice and all senators in both parties to ensure oversight of the u.s.a. patriot act authorities. so i would say right now that it's important that we vote for this renomination this afterno afternoon, given the ongoing threats to our nation, though i would have to say i appreciate director mueller's willingness to continue his service. at the hearing on this legislation, i noted his dedicated life to public service. but i also mentioned mrs. mueller. all of us who serve in public office know that it puts extra strain on our family members. i know how much of a partner she has been with him in bringing him to where he is. and i know that there has to
have been a large part of her and their life together wanting to be able to have some time without the pressures of being a -- of being in such public service. so i thank him for being willing to serve. i thank mrs. mueller too. so often we forget that. i see the distinguished ranking member on the floor, so i will yield the floor to senator grassley. and i would note for the senator from iowa, i've already asked consent that when there is a quorum call that the time be divided equally. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: mr. president, i'm very pleased to support the renomination of robert mueller to be director of the f.b.i.
director mueller has served as director since days immediately preceding the terrorist attacks, september 11, 2010. in the wake of that tragedy he has overseen a top-to-bottom transformation of the f.b.i. from a domestic law enforcement agency to a national security agency and with a necessary global presence to combat terrorism. director mueller has led the charge to ensure that the f.b.i.'s transformation is successful. this includes upgrading workforce from an agent-driven agency to one that includes an ever-increasing number of intelligence analysts. i applaud the hard work that has been done, and i also applaud the leadership of director mueller. but more work remains.
despite the recent successes, the f.b.i. also has its share of black marks and skeletons in the closet. i've been an outspoken critic of f.b.i.'s culture for many years because of its unwillingness to own up to mistakes. too often officials sought to protect the agency's reputation at the expense of truth. my concerns are magnified by the way the f.b.i. treated internal whistle-blowers who come forward and report fraud and abuse. but these problems are not necessarily the fault of director mueller, and many of these problems were in place long before he arrived. the director has been forthright in coming before congress and explaining these mistakes and not simply passing the buck. i appreciate his candor, and i believe the f.b.i. is in good
hands with his leadership. but i will continue, as he knows, to conduct extensive oversight of the f.b.i. to ensure that taxpayers' dollars are spent appropriately and that the civil liberties of americans are protected. in 1976, following the excesses of j. edgar hoover, congress limited the term of the director of the f.b.i. to one nonrenewal ten-year term. congress did so to prevent the accumulation of excess power by a director as well as to provide some political independence for the f.b.i. despite his knowing about director mueller's impending term limit and his initiating a search for a director led by attorney general and vice president biden, president obama chose not to send the senate a nomination for the director of the f.b.i.
instead the president decided that not withstanding those statutory provisions, director mueller should continue to serve in this position for another two years. presidential decisions to make transitions in other national security positions are not a special circumstance supporting the extension of the director's term. those personnel changes were entirely within the control of the president. however, we do live in extraordinary times and currently face unusual national security threats. between the recent death of osama bin laden and with the upcoming tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there is an increased threat of a possible terrorist attack. against this backdrop and with a heavy heart i agreed to support the president's request to
provide a onetime exception to the ten-year term limit on the f.b.i. directorship. with some reluctance i joined as a cosponsor of the original s. 1103. the president recently signed into law a modified version of that bill that provided a onetime extension of the f.b.i. director's term. earlier in the process i said as a requirement for my support of any legislation extending the ten-year term, regular procedure be followed. the purpose of this requirement was to set a substantial precedent against pursuing a simple process eviscerating the ten-year term limit. the process of getting to today's confirmation vote has meant my -- met my early requirement. a precedent has been set that
the f.b.i. director's term would not be routinely extended. the process holding a hearing where f.b.i. director testified, a legislation markup and a floor vote in both the house and senate. further, the bill was coupled with a unanimous consent agreement requiring a vote on the renomination of director mueller. taken together, this process has established an historical record that we do not take this extension lightly and that any further, future extensions should have to go through no less than the same process. the ten-year limit has achieved its intended purpose. until director mueller, no director subject to the limit has served that full ten-year term. the limit has been successful in reducing the power of the director and in preserving the vital civil liberties of all
americans. it has also provided important political independence for the f.b.i. director. only one director has been fired in this period, and this did not occur for political reasons. the prohibition on reapappointment has also preserved the director's independence by eliminating any potential that the director will attempt to curry favor with presidents to be reappointed. director mueller has done an admirable job on some areas of reform in an agency under difficult circumstances. i strongly support director mueller and believe that he will continue to provide steady leadership at this agency during what continue to be extraordinary times. and you can say extraordinary times going back to at least september 11, 2001. but as you look on the history
of the war on terror, it probably started 25 years before that in one form or another. however, it is clear to me as the legislation that the president signed required, that in two years director mueller will need to move on and president will send the senate a new nominee to fill his shoes. in the meantime, we all ought to thank director mueller for his willingness to serve for another two years in this very important position because i'm sure that he was already ready to move on. so the people of the united states as well as this congress needs to say thank you, director mueller, for being willing to serve your people again. i yield the floor. i guess i should suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: and the clerk will call the roll of the united states senate.
he has a ten-year term. normally we would expect it would be just that, a ten-year term. the director is given that long a period of time because there was a concern that when people stayed too long, problems can arise in the system because more personality-driven -- becomes more personality-driven rather than meritocracy. people can become entrenched in that sort of thing. so he had a ten-year term. i'm not certain that was an appropriate period of time. it should not be likely changed to a longer period of time
without some serious thought. are we violating the very purposes of the act that limited his term? so i -- so i am pleased that instead of moving forward with the proposal as originally drafted, we're now moving forward with the proposal that senator coburn offered, his substitute amendment, and i think that's the better way to extend the term, and i'd like to talk about that a little bit. the original proposal would have just amended the statute, providing that the director serve for only one ten-year term and create an exception to allow director mueller to serve an additional two years. so i'm concerned about the potential for creating a
dangerous precedent, that the ten-year term limit applies depending on who is the director, his or her political popularity and the political dynamics of the white house and the congress. that was not our goal. i do understand the president's desire to retain director mueller during this time in our nation's history and to do so expeditiously and not to have some sort of interim uncertainty. actually, i congratulate the president on his judgment in concluding that senator mueller mueller -- director mueller can do a good job and has done a good job. while it's true the original legislative proposal would have accomplished those things, i believe it was the easy way out and would not only have been a temptation to future generations to replicate it, but more importantly it might have run
afoul of the constitution. at the hearing before the judiciary committee, of which i am a member, concerns were raised about the original proposal and that was raised by university of virginia james madison distinguished professor of law john harrison. most of y'all will recall james madison was considered to be the founder of our constitution, the most active member of our constitutional convention, the one whose notes told us what went on, the one who went to the convention with an outline, a framework for the structure of government that eventually became our constitution. so he testified, mr. harrison did, that it was an unconstitutional -- quote -- "attempt by congress to exercise directly through legislation the appointments power." close quote. article 2, section 2, clause 2 of the constitution, the appointments clause -- it's in the constitution -- states that the president -- quote --
"shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of the senate shall appoint ambassadors and other public ministers and councils, judges of the supreme court and all other officers of the united states whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for and which shall be established by law." close quote. in the case of buckley vs. vallejo, the supreme court held that -- quote -- "any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the united states is an officer of the united states and must therefore be appointed in the manner prescribed by section 2, clause 2, of that article." in addition, the court has long recognized that -- quote -- "the power of removal is incident to the power of appointment." close quote.
and, therefore, congress may not involve itself in the removal process insofar as it interferes with the ability of the president to exercise executive power and to perform his constitutional duty. professor harrison explained that because -- quote -- "an appointment is a legal act that causes someone to hold an office that otherwise would be vacant or held by someone else, a statutory extension of the term of an incumbent causes the current incumbent to hold an office that otherwise would have been vacant upon the expiration of the incumbent's term. it is thus a statutory appointment." close quote. he further testified, professor harrison did, that the original
proposal would have also run afoul of the fundamental constitutional principle that underlies the appointments clause. this fundamental principle, because the president has the ultimate veto, the power to decide whether or not to appoint someone at all. he has the absolute responsibility for their nomination, good or bad. he nominates. indeed, the rationale for the structure of the appointments clause dates back to federalist number 76 which alexander hamilton explained -- quote -- "the sole and undivided responsibility of one man will naturally beget a livelier sense of duty and a more exact regard to reputation. he will on this account feel himself under stronger be obligations and more interested with the requisite to be fulfilled and to prefer with
impartiality the persons who may have the fairest pretensions to them." close quote. pretty effective language. dilution of the president's sole responsibility for nomination and appointment is inconsistent with constitutional principles, given that constitutional concerns were raised by these scholars, it was at least arguable that we had proceeded -- had we proceeded with the original proposal, a judge could find that director mueller's appointment and term of service to be unconstitutional. if it were to be challenged by someone in court, and that was possible. particularly concerning was the suggestion that in a properly presented case involving an individual subject to a purported exercise of government power by the director who was appointed pursuant to a statute like the original proposal, a
court could find that exercise of power to be invalid, either per expectatively or -- either perspectivively or retrospectively. in the past, they have held valid the actions of purported officers whose appointment did not comport with the constitution. when questioned about this possibility at the hearing, both director mueller and former attorney general of the united states of the united states james comey agreed that if serious constitutional concerns could be raised, they would favor proceeding with the reappointment process in a different way, one that would pass constitutional muster and not raise questions. professor harrison advises an alternative constitutional method which is the proposal that congress passed and the president signed into law yesterday.
so he gave us a suggested way to proceed that would be constitutional and we have drafted it, agreed with it and passed it. i think it speaks pretty well of congress that we are attuned to the complexities of the constitution and are committed to being faithful to that document, not just taking convenience and going faster but taking the time to hear professors, to think it out because in that way we respect the constitution, we venerate it, we strengthen it. when we just bypass it or slide by, dismiss lightly concerns that actions of congress or the president are -- may be in violation of the constitution, don't give due weight to that, we disrespect the document. so this law creates a new two-year term that would run until september 4, 2013.
it assumed that president obama would nominate director mueller to that new term with the advice and consent of the senate, requiring confirmation vote that we will proceed to shortly. so the new process required the director -- under the new law, director mueller is not eligible for another term after september 4, 2013, and after the expiration of that new term, the term for the director of the f.b.i. will revert back to the previous law, the ten-year term. therefore, whoever is the president in 2013 can appoint a new director to a ten-year term. while i agree that congress should work to expedite the confirmation process in this unique situation, i also saw no reason to proceed in a constitutionally unsound manner.
the formalities of the constitution may sometimes create obstacles to getting things done as quickly as some would like, but the constitution and its formalities exist for a very important reason, and that is our constitutional tradition of the adherence to the rule of law. we cannot circumvent those formalities in the interest of some expediency or because it is a convenient means to a desired end. words of the constitution have meaning. they are not suggestions that we are free to ignore if it's not inconvenient today. so i believe the process by which we are now proceeding, creating a separate two-year term and then calling on the president to make a new nomination. he didn't have to renominate
director mueller but he indicated that was his desire and we have accorded him the opportunity to do that. he has then renominated director mueller, and i hope in a few moments we will confirm him to this important position. one of the discussions we had at that hearing was with professor vanalstein. i heard him make a speech many years ago. i was united states attorney so it must have been 15, 20 years ago at the 11th circuit conference, i think, in georgia, and he spoke to the judges and he said well, he had come to the belief that if one really respected the constitution, that they would follow it faithfully,
the good and the bad parts, because that was the only way you respected the constitution, that that was the way to honor the constitution, that's the way to respect it, to follow what it says, to the extent to which we are tempted to move around the plain words, the plain intent of the constitution for convenience we weaken that document. in the long run, a weakened document will be less of a bulwark, protecting our liberties and our freedom as individual americans. so i thank the president, i thank the leadership, i thank senator leahy, the chairman of our committee, for responding to the professor's request and ideas and to proceeding in a way that i think raises no question about constitutionality or if it is it's small and in a way that
took a little more effort. so i thank the chair for the opportunity to share these remarks, and once again express my deep admiration for director mueller. he is a thorough professional law enforcement officer. virtually the entire time of his law enforcement career he has tried individual cases, prosecuted individual defendants of all kinds of crimes and deprivations. he has understood the reality of the courtroom experience. he has worked with -- as a prosecutor with f.b.i. investigative agents over his entire career as a law enforcement officer, and now as a -- the director of the f.b.i., he brings a unique experience to it. i believe he has done a fine job
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i would move that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator is recognized. mr. sarnz: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, we are clearly at a momentous moment in american history. the american people are engaged. we're getting tens of thousands of people visiting our web site sanders.senate.gov every day, people want to know what's going on. and as the longest serving independent in american history in congress, let me give you my view of where we are right now. first, i do want to say that i
get a little bit tired of hearing some of our pundits and some of the politicians around here blithely talking about trillions of dollars in cuts. and i see some of these guys making huge salaries on tv saying, "why don't they just come to an agreement? $2 trillion in cuts, $3 trillion in cuts?" well, that may be okay if you're making a whole lot of money on television, doing a television show, but clearly those people have not been talking to real americans. so let me just go over what the media and many of us in congress have not been talking about and that is what the impacts of these trillions of dollars of cuts are about. these are not just words on a piece of paper. these are cuts which are going to have devastating impacts on people who are already suffering as a result of the worst recession since the great depression. now, some people come up with this great idea and they say,
you know, the cola, the cost of living adjustment, for social security is too high today, seniors and disabled vets are getting just too much. and quote, unquote, noted economists -- i have not heard from these noted economists -- think that it's just too extravagant. well, mr. president, you go back to baltimore and i'll go to vermont and we'll ask seniors whether they think the cola's they're getting now are too extravagant given the fact they haven't gotten the cola in the last two years. and studies that i have seen say not only are the cola's today not too extravagant for social security and disabled vets, they are, in fact, too low because they underestimate the real expenses of seniors which largely have to do with health care and prescription drugs, costs are soaring. in of these pundits or any of these economists who go out and talk to real people and say,
"social security cola's are too high," they're going to get laughed right out of the room because it ain't true. but if we come forward with the so-called chained c.p.i., this new formulation for cola's, this is what it will mean in the real world. what it will mean is that if you're 65 today, when you become 75 in ten years, that will result in a $560 decline in what you otherwise would have gotten in social security benefits. and when you're 85, 20 years from today, that will be $1,000 a year decline. now, i know here in d.c. with the lobbyists making millions a year that when you talk about a thousand dollars -- see, that's what these guys spend on a fancy dinner. it's laughable. but they don't know what goes on in the real world and that there are millions of seniors in the world today hanging on trying to
pay their prescription drug costs, trying to pay their out-of-pocket costs for health care, and a thousand dollars a year in 20 years is a lot of money for those people. in my view, it would be immoral and unacceptable to do what a number of plans out here are talking about and that is to cut social security benefits very significantly. and clearly that's where the republicans are coming from but it distresses me that i hear the president and members of democrats in congress also talking about that. and this senator will do everything that he can to protect this enormously important program, which, by the way, just in passing, has not contributed one nickel to the deficit because it is funded by the payroll tax, has a $2.6 trillion surplus. so from a moral perspective, we cannot and must not cut social security. and then, mr. president, there are other geniuses out there who
are saying, well, you know, medicare, health care costs are going up and maybe it's time that we did something like make major cuts in medicare, including raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67. what's the problem? what's just -- what's two years? well, clearly those folks have not talked to anybody today who is struggling when they're 60 or 63 and are looking forward to medicare at 65. what happens, mr. president, if you are a modest income person and you are 66 years of age and you're dealing with a health care crisis? maybe you get hospitalized. but the government has said, pundits have said, my republican friends have said we're going to raise the medicare age to 67. you tell me. let the american people tell me, what happens to those millions
of people? what are they supposed to do? you get diagnosed with cancer, you have a serious heart problem, you're 66, you have no money in the bank, what happens to you? how many of those people will not survive? and then other people say, "well, medicaid's an easy program to cut." i mean, let's be politically honest about medicaid. medicaid is for lower income people. they don't have lobbyists here. they don't make large campaign contributions. many low-income people don't vote. they're an easy target to go after. let's cut hundreds of billions of dollars from medicaid. well, let's be clear now, mr. president. according to a recent study at harvard university, some 45,000 americans die each year needlessly, unnecessarily because they don't get to a doctor on time. 45,000 americans, 15 times what we lost in the disaster of 9/11. every single year.
thosthose people are dying. what happens if you make savage cuts in medicaid? how many children do you throw off of the children's health insurance program? what happens to the older people who are now in nursing homes on medicaid? what happens to all of those people? well, i guess we don't have to worry about them. their lobbyists are not here. what happens to people on disabilities? well, we turn our backs on those people, that's what we do. now, mr. president, one of the very interesting aspects of this whole debate and why the american people are so angry, so frustrated and so disillusioned is that congress is moving in a direction of exactly the opposite way that the american people want us to handle deficit reduction. every single poll that i have seen in my experience in talking to people in the -- and my
experience in talking to people in the state of vermont has been that people want shared sacrifice. people understand that the wealthiest people in this country today are doing phenomenally well. over a recent 25-year period, 80% of all new income went to the top 1%. the rich are getting richer, and you know what? their effective tax rates today are one of the lowest in american history, about 18%. so the richest people in america are doing phenomenally well, are paying a lower tax rate than are nurses, teachers and police officers. and the american people who see the middle class declining and the rich getting richer, they are saying, hey, it is only fair that the wealthiest people help us, contribute to deficit reduction. you can't place the whole burden on the backs of people who are
getting poorer and poorer as a result of the recession. and the american people also understand that you have large multinational corporations like general electric, exxonmobil and many others who have been making billions of dollars in profits in recent years and don't pay a nickel in federal taxes. and then on top of that, you have the absurdity of a tax policy which allows the wealthy and large corporations to stash huge amounts of money in the cayman islands and in other tax havens so that we are losing about $100 billion a year in revenue. and the american people are looking around and they say, that's crazy. the wealthy and large corporations who are doing phenomenally well, who are not paying their fair share of tax taxes, they have got to contribute to deficit reduction. it cannot simply be on the backs of the elderly, the children,
the sick, the poor. that's what the american people are saying. poll after poll. mr. president, there was a poll that just came out the other d day, just one more of many polls, "washington post." should the wealthiest people in this country be asked to pay more, that's the question? and they asked, michael jordan to reduce the national debt, would -- and they asked, in order to reduce the national debt, would you oppose the following question: raising taxes on americans with incomes of over $250,000 a year? 72% of the american people in that poll said "yes." 27% said "no." overwhelmingly, every poll that we see says the wealthy have got to pay more in taxes. and then these same polls say protect social security, protect medicare, protect medicaid, protect education. and here's the irony.
we are marching down a path which will do exactly opposite of what the american people want. our republican friends have been absolutely fanatically determined, fanatically determined, that no matter what happens, billionaires and large corporations will not pay a nickel more in taxes. that has been their religious belief, not a nickel more from the wealthiest people in this country. and i have to say, mr. president, democrats have never been -- have not been particularly strong in opposition to that, nor has the president been strong. retreat after retreat after retreat. so in recent months, we have heard more and more discussion from democrats about cuts in social security, cuts in medicare, cuts in medicaid, and
now there is apparently a willingness to come forward with a proposal that would include only cuts and no revenue at all, no revenue at all. so, mr. president, i think the american people are angry, i think they are frustrated, i think they are disillusioned because what they want to see happen is deficit reduction done through shared sacrifice, with the wealthy and large corporations playing their role appears not to be happening. and when they have said loudly and clearly that we must protect social security, medicare and medicaid, they are also seeing that that is not happening. so, mr. president, i would just conclude that i think there is a path toward deficit reduction which is fair and responsible.
it does ask the big money interests to understand they are americans also, they have got to play a role in deficit reduction. it does say that at a time when we have tripled military spending since 1997, we have got to make significant cuts there as well. so, mr. president, i would hope that our republican friends would give up their fanatic opposition to asking billionaires and millionaires and large corporations from playing a role in deficit reduction. i would hope my democratic friends would stand tall, and i would hope that at the end of the day, we would have a deficit reduction program that the american people would feel good about. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: first, mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that an intern charlie valeo anderson have the privileges of the floor for the balance of the day from senator merkley's office. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i would also ask unanimous consent that i would speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, we all know that on tuesday, we're running against the deadline on raising the debt of our nation, and there is a real risk that if we don't make that deadline on tuesday, there will be checks from the federal government that will not be able to go out. the 70 million number is used, the number of checks that are written each month by the federal government that go to employees, that go to contractors, that go to
recipients of certain benefits. let me talk about 4,000 federal workers who already have been furloughed, and it doesn't have to do with raising the debt ceiling. it has to do with the failure of the house of representatives to send a clean extension of the federal aviation administration, f.a.a. reauthorization bill for us to consider. as a result of the failure to pass a reauthorization of the federal aviation administration or to pass a short-term extension of the f.a.a., 4,000 workers at the federal aviation administration have been put on furlough. that in and of itself has a major impact on our economy. that's 4,000 americans who are no longer receiving a paycheck. it affects people that work for the f.a.a. in such fields as safety engineers, computer
scientists, aeronautics engineers, physical scientists, and the list goes on and on and on, jeopardizing the progress that we have made in keeping our airways safe and jeopardizing the convenience to those who travel by air. many of those workers live in the state of maryland, so it's having a direct effect on the state that i have the honor of representing in the united states senate. but, mr. president, it goes beyond just the federal work force that have been put on furlough as a result of the failure to pass a short-term extension of the f.a.a. it also goes to construction contracts that are funded through the aviation funds. in many airports around the nation, there have been now stop orders on construction of runways, construction of towers, constructions of other improvements that are important
to keep our airports modern and safe and convenient and handling the increased number of air passengers. but let me tell you, yes, it affects those large contractors who were doing work for the federal government and it's going to affect their payrolls, it's going to affect their work force, but it also affects a lot of small businesses in maryland and around the nation. let me just give you one example. chaffee corporation is an electrical and mechanical operations small business specializing in airport landing and systems and lighting. chaffee construction is the lead contractor implementing b.w.i., the main airport in maryland, a runway system mechanism project that enables air traffic controllers to detect complex by providing detailed coverage of the movement on runways and taxiways. well, for the safety of all of
us, i would hope we would want to move forward with that type of improvements in our major airports in the nation, including the one which most marylanders use, b.w.i. airport. chaffee construction corporation has been told to stop work on this important aviation safety project and decreasing their value and making it more difficult to make payroll. it's already tough for small companies out there today, and now because of the failure of the house to send over to us a clean extension of the f.a.a. bill, which we have done many times in the past, we have a company like chaffee which is running the risk of its strength to continue, to do important work at an airport on safety. well, let me tell you it also goes beyond just the federal employees and the contractors who were -- employees who are not getting a paycheck to contractors whose work have been stopped and they are not getting
their construction project payments. it's going to affect their payment. it also affects the federal aviation administration's revenues. they collect a lot of revenues. it's a ticket tax. when you buy an airline ticket, you pay a tax that goes to the federal aviation administration's funds which are used to fund the projects such as improvements to our airports. that amounts to about about $30 million. that will not be collected. now, what happens to that money we lose it in the federal treasury. we'll say well, maybe it will make it less expensive for people to travel, but that's not the case. let me just quote. on a headline, "airlines raise fares as taxes laps. many u.s. airlines have raised fares in recent days to take advantage of a lapse in u.s. ticket tax collections after congress failed last week to fully fund the federal aviation administration's budget, but
passengers are not likely to notice any price difference. jetblue airway corporation, southwest airlines company began raising ticket prices by at least 7.5% on friday. according to farecompare.com. other airlines such as delta airlines, united continental holding inc. boosted prices on saturday." end quote. so we can't collect the 7.5% tax, airlines are pocketing the money, people purchasing the tickets are still paying the same amount even though none of that money is going to improve our airports. it makes no sense whatsoever. all of these occurrences, federal workers not getting a paycheck, being put on furlough, contractors not getting paid and construction work not being done, revenues not being collected that are necessary to the federal government, all are
hurting our economy, all are making it more difficult for our recovery. now, why is this happening? well, the reason, quite frankly, is that we have not been able to pass the reauthorization bill. let me tell you, the house passed the reauthorization bill earlier this senate. the house sent us the bill -- passed the bill about 100 days ago but has refused to appoint conferees to work out the differences. and then the house sends this over because we didn't meet the deadline an extension bill that includes a partisan labor provision, an antilabor provision. now, that should never be an extension -- in an extension bill, it shouldn't be in any legislation, but it should be negotiated between the conferees, between the house and senate so we can get a reauthorization bill done. they shouldn't use an extension bill in order to get that done. and that's what they have done. as a result, we had the consequences of federal workers being furloughed, contractors
not being paid and revenues necessary for airport improvement not being collected. well, what should we do? what do we need to do? we need to first pass a short-term extension we call a clean short-term extension without these pillar amendments attached to it to allow our work force to be able to work and to get their paychecks to allow contractors to get their work to doing and allow the government to collect the revenues necessary to keep our airports modern. that's the first thing we should do. and then secondly, mr. president, we need to negotiate in good faith between the house and senate conferees so we can pass the federal aviation administration reauthorization bill. that bill contains many important provisions, including what we call nextgen, which is the way in which we can operate our air service in a much more efficient way using less fuel, less time and helping our comai. the f.a.a. reauthorization
bill -- helping our economy. the f.a.a. reauthorization bill is estimated to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for our country. we need to get that done. so we need to negotiate the bill, get that done, and all that will help create more jobs for our community. so i urge my colleagues, particularly those in the house, to send us a clean extension bill, negotiate in good faith, let's get the f.a.a. bill done. with that, mr. president, i see actually the ranking member on that committee who might wish to talk about that or some other issue, our colleague from texas, and with that, i would yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i was here to talk about the renomination of the f.b.i. director mueller, but i certainly heard my colleague from maryland and i agree that we must extend a clean extension of the f.a.a. we are losing the revenue and we are losing the capability for projects that are ongoing to
continue. work has stopped at many of the airports that have building and repair projects going that are supported by the f.a.a., and honestly the house needs to send a clean extension. there is a clean extension pending in the senate. it has been objected to by one member, but this is not the way to go forward. i happen to agree with much of what the house wants to do, but not in this way. we have to put that in the context of the whole bill, which we certainly should be doing, and i hope that the house will send us a clean extension so there will not be another weekend of disruption and people can get on with the projects. i did come to talk about the f.b.i. director robert mueller. he has been f.b.i. director
since 2001. during a critical time when our country has experienced such major leadership changes on our national security team, this offers the necessary stability and continuity from a proven leader who has wide support. director mueller has strong bipartisan support. he was appointed in 2001, august 2, just before the 9/11 tragedy by president bush, and he began serving a week before the september 11 attacks. his term is set to expire next week on august 2. the f.b.i. has never experienced a larger transformation than while under his leadership, adding counterterrorism, counterintelligence and cybersecurity to the bureau's traditional crime-fighting mission. in the ten years while mr. mueller has been director of the f.b.i., he has worked tirelessly to ensure no
international terrorist attacks have occurred on u.s. soil since 9/11, and there have been several plots that have been uncovered and kept from occurring. director mueller has ensured that the f.b.i. is a full member of the u.s. intelligence community and serves as a critical and singular link between the intelligence and law enforcement communities in texas. -- in the united states, excuse me. he has served our nation with valor and integrity as a marine in vietnam and as a federal prosecutor. he answered the call to service from president bush to be f.b.i. director and is once again answering the call by agreeing to serve two more years under president obama. he is an admirable public servant, and i urge his swift confirmation. mr. president, we are less than six days away from the date the department of treasury has signified would shut down the
federal government and exhaust all borrowing authority. we all know that we are at this point because we have a fundamental difference in the principles on how our government should be run. we all know that we are at this point because the financial viability of our nation is at stake. i believe that this debt ceiling debate presents congress with a critical opportunity to get our country back on a sustainable and prosperous path. we must send a message to the markets, to the american people and to american businesses that we are going to get our fiscal house in order with spending cuts, caps on future spending and permanent budget reform in the form of a balanced budget amendment. what we need now is a serious proposal to provide certainty and clear commitment to a reform measure that ensures spending cuts before the debt ceiling is raised.
the senate majority leader and the house speaker's plans have similarities, and i believe that a common ground can be found in the two. first, neither of the plans proposes tax increases to achieve deficit reduction. and both plans aim for significant deficit savings in the amount of $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. now, is that what we wanted? is that what i would have written if i could have been the czar? no. i would have had more cuts. we should be reaching for for $4 trillion cuts, not not $1.2 trillion. but we have had plans put forward for $4 trillion, we have had plans put forward for more, and we couldn't get those through. we couldn't get one through the senate, we couldn't get one through the house, and furthermore, entitlements are not on the drawing boards right now in the plans that are before
us and entitlement reform is essential for us to address. we can certainly put social security on the fiscally responsible path that will make it secure for 75 years with very minor changes and gradual changes if we do it now. this is an opportunity. because we have only six days, we're not going to be able to do it in this vehicle, but there is a plan going forward that our leader, senator mcconnell and senator reid, along with a bipartisan group of senators, have put forward that actually will have entitlement reform, and i think we need to look at those for the longer term and not let this opportunity pass to do something that will be enduring for the fiscal responsibility of our country. but we have six days and now we have to do something as
responsible as possible with the time that we have left and keep open the option of doing what we should be doing for the long term before the end of this year. that's what senator mcconnell, senator reid, many other senators have put on the table. that is what we need to try to achieve. but we have made great strides. what republicans said from the beginning is we're not going to support tax increases of any kind in this economic climate. businesses are not hiring. a 9.1% unemployment rate is unacceptable. our businesses are afraid of the obama health care plan and its costs, and they are factoring that in to their plans and they are not hiring people because of the expense. you add more tax increases on top of that and our economy is
going to be stagnant for a long time. so tax increases were off the table, but i do hope that we can also make the cuts that will put us on a fiscally responsible plan so we will not have to address this debt ceiling ever again. so we have made a major achievement. sometimes it seems like when you have to come together to do something that isn't a deal, you don't take acknowledgment of the fact that you are making one smaller step in the right direction, and i think in order to avoid a fiscal clal amity, we do need to make the strongest step that we can make, which is cutting spending and doing it without increasing taxes. the idea that we could tax our way out of debt has been totally
discounted. neither of these plans includes tax hikes to offset the deficit reduction and that is a strong strong -- that's a strong endorsement. both proposals also include budget enforcement of discretionary caps by requiring automatic, across-the-board cuts if the caps are not met. that will put a governor on future spending to keep the promise that we are making to cut spending. both proposals establish a bipartisan committee to identify further deficit reduction that would include tax reform and fixing the broken entitlement programs. i hope that we will not throw that out the window. having a commission -- i know people roll their eyes and say oh, another commission, really? well, if we have a finite end date and have the opportunity to make more real cuts, it's worth
another chance. we do need to make entitlement reforms, and if we can do tax reform that lowers the tax rate for everyone and brings in revenue by having more people hired off the unemployment rolls, that's a win. we raise revenue by putting more people back to work. not by tax increases that puts a lid on hiring. so i think we've got some good things that can be put together. we need to make sure that we go forward as much as we can with a divided congress and try to make a step in the right direction and then hopefully before the end of the year we will be able to take stronger steps that will have a more lasting impact. i, for one, think it is not even a possibility that we would allow the debt ceiling to be met
and start the process, then, of watching the president decide who gets paid and who doesn't. now, i have a bill that i have introduced with strong support that would make the priority paying the interest on our debt and paying our soldiers, our men and women who have boots on the ground in harm's way. if you're on active-duty military, you shouldn't waste one minute thinking about whether you're going to make your mortgage. and, mr. president, i want to say that i commend usaa. usaa is the corporation that services so many of our service personnel and they have put out their policy in case the debt limit is reached and we haven't come to an accommodation that not one of their customers in the military will have to worry about their paychecks. they are going to cover in an
advance the paycheck that that military person would be entitled to because they have faith that eventually we will meet our obligations in congress and everything will be. they also know the stresses on those members of the armed services. usaa is doing a wonderful thing by putting those families of loved ones across the sea fighting for our security at ease because they will know that their mortgage payment is going to go out of their bank account and they're not going to have to worry about the things that they need as their children are starting school in the next month wherever they are. so, mr. president, i commend usaa. at the same time, i would like for my bill to be passed that assures that those who are not customers of usaa will also have
the comfort of knowing that their paychecks will be there on time. and so i hope that if all else fails in this body, that we can pass the legislation that says we'll pay our debts and we will pay our military and social security recipients will also be paid from that account. but i don't think we ought to get that far at all and that's why i am urging our members to work with our leaders. don't -- don't throw stones at our leaders. i mean, they have a tough job corralling 100 pretty big egos and we ought to be helping them get to the point where we're all comfortable that we are doing the right thing. and sometimes you can't get 100% of what you want when there are 100 people who have their individual ideas as well. so, mr. president, i hope that we will take this chance to do so much for our country that we have the opportunity to do and
we may have to do it in smaller steps to reach that goal. but if we reach the goal, we will have secured the future for our children and that is what we're here for. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. mr. webb: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. webb: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. webb: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i would like to express my support for the majority leader's plan to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit. our nation, as we all know, faces a looming crisis. the markets have already warned us. businesses are already postponing investments. we know the consequences of inaction. they are predictable. borrowing costs for businesses and individuals will escalate. interest payments on the debt will grow, and already anemic job growth will decline. our nation will run the risk of
another financial catastrophe and possibly a return to recession. as chamber noo chairman bernanky staisd, the outcome would be calamitous. many americans are struggling. far too many remain out of work. they cannot be asked to absorb the shock waves owaves of yet ar failure toage. it's time, as the senator from texas pointed out and others just have, for both sides and both chambers to find common ground. reasonable and responsible editorials from across the country have endorsed the majority leader's proposal. well-meaning people on all sides have a genuine concern, have shown genuine concerns. we all, most of us, most all of us share those concerns about the implications of not acting. there are in the other party some individuals who view themselves as revolutionaries in
the best sense of the word. they appear less concerned with the here and now than with where they want to take the country in the future. and we all understand that the two are connected and that looking to the future is vital to the country. the question, though, is the harm that might be caused by precipitous action. columnist george will wrote a column a few days ago likening the tea party movement of today to the beginning of the gol goldwater-reagan conservative era, that the goldwater movement of 1964, even though it did not bring senator goldwater to the presidency, was the first step toward the conservative revolution that culminated in ronald reagan's election in 1980. mr. will wrote -- and i'm going to quote a couple of sentences -- "the tea party" --
which is in view is the most welcome development since the goldwater insurgency in 1964, lacks only the patience necessary when america lacks the consensus required to propel fundamental change." mr. will goes on to say on, "if washington's trajectory could be turned as quickly as tea partiers wish, their movement would not be as necessary as it is." those are mr. will's words. that is mr. will's considered opinion. and that may be so, and it may not be so. but the first rule of good governance is to do no harm. that doesn't mean we shouldn't make cuts. that doesn't mean we shouldn't look toward some of the directions that the debate has taken us. but it means be careful when you're dealing with the fragility of national policy at a time like this. some things sound better in a speech to a roomful of activists
than they actually are in the reality, how you govern and the practicality of how you actually bring about change where change is needed. senator goldwater did not attempt to torpedo the economy in order to get his way. and ronald reagan, in whose administration i proudly served by the way, raised the national debt 18 times, more than any other president. mr. president, i fought in vietnam as an infantry marine. aim very proud of that. and those of us who did fight in vietnam all remember the regretful quote of one infantry officer who lamented that during one battle he had to call in heavy artillery and airstrikes in a populated village, that he had to destroy a village in order to save it. i don't think the republicans, who are using this issue as a
lever to bring about their view of radical change, want to look back at a fractured economic recovery, a downgraded credit rating for the world's number-one economy, a citizenry that has become more angry, less capable of predicting its own financial future, and then say, as if all of this were not predictable, that they destroyed the american economy in order to save it. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i know my distinguished colleague from -- the senior senator from west virginia is going to be seeking recognition and perhaps others, and i certainly have no objection to that. i realize we're on the mueller nomination, but i understand that notwithstanding any interruption -- or i'd ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding any interruption for other business, that the mueller vote still be at the time we originally planned, which is around 4:00. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: thank you, and i
yield the floor. i yield to my distinguished colleague, the senior senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i thank the good senator very much. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: thank you, mr. president. last week i came to the senate ploor to ask unanimous consent to pass a clean extension of the f.a.a. bill, something that the senate has done 20 times. this is the 21st time, four years of waiting to pass a reauthorization bill. but for the first time in these four years, the republicans objected to this extraordinarily routine request. shortly, i will renew my request to pass our 21st short-term extension of the f.a.a. but before i do, i want to highlight the very painful consequences of failing to pass this bill, which we can only do by getting a clean extension. by objecting to my request last
week, republican senators made sure that 4,000 hardworking f.a.a. employees were furloughed already. hundreds of critical airport safety capacity, air traffic control projects were brought to a halt. payments were stopped to hundreds of small businesses dependent upon reimbursement from the f.a.a. for their work. the federal government is being forced to forego almost $30 million a day, mr. president, in aviation tax revenue that is critical obviously to supporting our overall airport infrastructure program. and the introduction of the newest boeing aircraft are being delayed because the f.a.a. cannot certify that the planes operate safely. i know in washington we have a tendency to view these fights as purely policy agreement -- disagreements that have no real
impact on people. what i stress here is there is an enormous effect on people and businesses large and small and on the economy of the united states. because some republicans have refused to allow another clean extension of the f.a.a. program, something we have done 20 times in the last four years, we're inflicting real pain on very, very real people. people are suffering, small businesses are hurting, and we are losing jobs and we'll lose a lot more. even consumers are losing out on airline tax -- ticket tax holidays. the majority of the airline industry has greedily chosen to pocket those revenues rather than reducing ticket prices. in other words, they have a tax holiday because of the expiration of the taxes has already taken place a number of days ago. so what they're doing is they're taking this tax holiday, and
rather than leaving at the present level the cost of a ticket for consumers as alaska airlines is doing and virgin airlines is doing and one other airlines is doing, they're taking the money to themselves, giving it to themselves. i just find that extraordinary. it reminds me of "too big to tpaeug" the movie -- too big to fail, the movie. they got all the money and then didn't spend a dime on it with helping with mortgages. the damage we're doing to our aviation system is incredibly real. and if we fail to act in a timely manner, it may be so devastating as to become irreversible. when you think about it, it does make sense. if you operate on somebody and cut beyond a certain point, you can't reverse the damage. with so much pain being inflicted on so many, you may
ask why my republican colleagues have refused reputed requests to pass a clean extension, something we have done 20 times in the past four years. they are willing evidently to hurt so many of the benefit -- so many people for the benefit of one company. it's called delta airlines. the chairman of the house transportation committee has stated publicly the house-inserted language on the essential air service program, we need that to leverage the senate on including provisions on relating to the national mediation board. now, what do i mean by that? what they sent over to us was all about essential air service, but that's not what it's about at all. the chairman of the, my corresponding chairman over in the house has told me many times that the -- essential air service is not a big deal to
him. he doesn't particularly have a dog in this hunt. we need to do some reform of it, which we've offered to do. but he didn't mention a thing about the national mediation board. that is the only thing which motivates the house. delta airlines is nonunion. the other airlines, for the most part are union. delta airlines has had four elections in the last several years to unionize. each time the company has prevailed over the union. so you might ask why is it that they are so strongly suggesting that they need this national mediation board, which they changed in their bill. it had been changed two years ago to say that the number of votes that were cast were the number of votes that were reflected. but now in their bill what they want to say is that anybody who does not vote in a union
certification election, by definition has voted "no." i never heard of that in america or anywhere else, and it's a rather ridiculous ploy. so this is not policy. this is -- it's pettiness. it has become typical "my way or the highway" thinking of house republicans. i would note we have foregone almost $150 million in tax revenues by failing to act, and it will go up by about $25 million a day, which when you think about it, would come close to paying for the whole essential air service program anyway in just a week or so. so, again, by the end of the week we will have lost more revenue used for aviation infrastructure spending than on the entire essential air service program cost all of last year.
it's embarrassing. i wish my republican colleagues would have defended the prerogatives of the senate. instead some chose to back the house leadership. last year, as my friend from utah, who is here now, outlined so honestly last week, senate republicans are not permitting the senate to pass a clean extension because they want the senate to accept language altering 85 years of labor law and legal precedent. i wish i understood why the policy objections of one company -- delta airlines -- mattered so much to so few and also mattered so much more than the livelihood of thousands of american workers who have been or will shortly be furloughed. last year the c.e.o. of delta made $9 million. whether that was his salary or salary plus options, i know not. delta paid its top executives almost $20 million.
yet, it's fighting to make sure its employees cannot organize. they have already had four elections. all four, delta has prevailed. for fewer they may secure a few extra dollars in their checks for their workers. at the same time it's pushing for special interest provisions in the f.a.a. bill. delta is not shy. delta announced it was abandoning air service to 26 smaller rural communities, leaving many of them obviously without any service. you only have to live in a small rural community or state like mine to understand what that means and what the cost really is. delta then had the gall to announce publicly it would seek e.a.s., essential air service, subsidies to continue this service. maybe mr. anderson and his colleagues could forego some of their own salaries to help subsidize the air service. that's not my business.
maybe they could use some of the millions of dollars they are collecting in a tax holiday windfall to pay for this service. that is not my business. but it is theirs, and it is shameful. let me be clear, house republicans and their senate allies have thrown nearly 4,000 f.a.a. employees out of work already, stopped critical airport safety projects, hurt hundreds of small businesses, and gutted the aviation trust fund, or began to, so that delta airlines, that one company, doesn't have to allow its employees to organize in a fair or timely manner if they chose to. the needs of one company should not in any deliberative body dictate the safety and soundness of our aviation system. we need to pass a clean extension that will get people back to work and businesses and
their employees back to work and building out our airport infrastructure. it's so simple, mr. president. it's so simple just to pass a clean extension bill. we've done it so often. we've done it 20 times. at one time where there was some policy attached was two years ago when the house and the senate totally agreed on what was in the extension, and it passed. but it's such a simple thing to do, and by not doing it, it's holding up our whole process. therefore, i ask unanimous consent that as if in the legislative session the senate proceed to calendar number 109, h.r. 2553, that a rockefeller-hutchison substitute amendment which is at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time and passed, and the motion to
reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. hatch: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. hatch: mr. president, let me just take a few minutes -- the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. let me take a few minutes to explain why i'm once again objecting to the legislation just offered by my dear friend, my finance committee colleague from west virginia. i want to make it absolutely clear that a long-term f.a.a. reauthorization is a priority for this country, and it's a personal priority for me. once again i want to point out that i worked with chairman baucus on the reporting a finance committee title to the bill that passed the senate earlier this year. the current lapse in f.a.a. taxes and expenditure authority from the airport and airway trust fund is a detrimental situation brought on by the senate majority's refusal to discontinuing granting excessive favors for big labor and their
refusal to cut any wasteful spending. as i've already said, i share house transportation infrastructure committee chairman's frustration that favors to to labor long term mediation. last year the board changed the rules under which employees of airlines and railroads are able to unionize. for decades the standard has been that a majority of employees would have to agree in an election to form a union. however, the new national mediation board rules changed that standard so that all it takes to unionize is a majority of employees who vote or voting. this means that the n.m.b. wants to count an employee who doesn't vote as voting for big labor. somehow organized labor is able to claim that it is democrat to
appropriate someone else's vote without that person's input and participation. the f.a.a. reauthorization bill that passed the house earlier this year undoes this heavy-handed rule and lets airline employees decide for themselves how to use their own votes. the house bill would merely undo a big partisan favor done at the behest of big labor and put efforts to unionize airline workforces on the same footing that they have been on for years. the house bill does not create a new hurdle to unionization. instead it restores the long-standing ability of airline employees to make decisions for themselves. the house bill only does the n.m.b. action that was taken to reverse 70 years of precedent for narrow political gain. in addition to an impulse to cater to big labor, the senate majority is also resistant to any attempt to cut any
government spending, no matter how wasteful that spending may be. the house bill i'm going to ask unanimous consent for in a few minutes has aroused the ire of the majority because it contains a provision that would limit essential air service eligibility to communities that are located 90 or more miles from a large or medium-hub airport. this would save $12.5 million a year. that's right, million with an "m," not a "b" or "t." the majority is resisting a position that passed this body as part of the senate's long-term reauthorization bill that would save $12.5 million a year and they're willing to put the f.a.a.'s financing at risk in the process. the house bill i'm going to offer in a few minutes also contains an additional proposal to limit essential air service subsidies for communities where the cost per passenger is greater than $1,000. this provision would affect a grand total of three airports in
the whole country. it is my understanding that these three airports would also have cease to receive e.a.s. subsidies under another provision in the senate-passed long-term f.a.a. bill that limited subsidies to airports averaging ten or more passengers a day. so to sum this up, our friends on the other side, the democrats, are holding this up over wasteful spending and handouts for president obama's big union allies. the point is that the senate majority has cut the f.a.a. off from its primary source of financing and created confusion for travel companies and tax-paying passengers by objecting to a short-term extension measure that does not do one single thing that is not done by a bill that passed the senate by unanimous consent on april 7 of this year. i want to briefly discuss and hopefully clear away some of that confusion. passengers who bought tickets while the taxes were still being
collected may be entitled to a refund if they are traveling during a period in which the taxes have lapsed. i want to make it clear that the inability of the senate majority to process legislation should not constitute an additional burden to the already beleagured travel industry. it is the responsibility of the internal revenue service to refund ticket taxes. and while i recognize they want to do the right thing for taxpayers, i encourage the i.r.s. to work closely with the travel industry. the travel industry is not responsible for the lapse in f.a.a. taxes, and they shouldn't bear extra costs because of that. the lack of a long-term bill is bad for airports all across the country because they don't have the funding stability to plan and complete projects. kicking the can farther down the road is not a viable alternative to actually doing what is in the best interest of all parties. as a senate conferee to the f.a.a. bill, i stand ready to do everything i can to get to work with my house and senate colleagues on a long-term f.a.a.
reauthorization just as soon as they are willing to get down to work. so, mr. president, as if in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 2553, which was received from the house. i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, and that any statements relating to the bill appear at this point in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, have the yeas and nays been ordered on the mueller nomination? the presiding officer: they have not been ordered. mr. leahy: mr. president, i'd ask for the yeas and nays on the mueller nomination. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. leahy: mr. president, how much time remains until the vote
on the mueller nomination? the presiding officer: 4 minutes. mr. leahy: mr. president, i'm going to hope that all senators will step forward and vote for this nomination. i can think of no reason why they shouldn't. director mueller is typical of many in our government who served the people of america tirelessly without any gain to themselves, but for what is best for all americans and what is best for our country. he's done away, along with the thousands in the department of justice and the f.b.i. who work every day, actually work around the clock every day to keep
america safe to, protect us from crime, and to protect us from terrorists. we sometimes sit here in a lump and say oh, well, government employees. the fact is these are very brave men and women, many of whom put their lives on the line for us day by day, and we ought to acknowledge that. now, bob mueller has the public face as the long-serving director of the f.b.i. but he and ann are also long-time married couple, family, children now grown. and he is able to separate that part from the public life. the public life, like so many who serve this country, the public life takes an inordinate
amount of his time. i think it is a compliment to him that he is willing to do that, but also to ann and his children, that they're willing to let him have that time. i think, madam president, we should feel fortunate in this country that when the president asked him to step forward for another two years, he answered the call. i also want to compliment president obama. he knew he had the opportunity to name somebody who would last, who would be there as long as he , barack obama, may be president and beyond, whether he has two terms which i hope or otherwise. instead, he did as he has often done what he thought is best for the country. that's the situation that we are. i would urge all senators to vote aye on this nomination.
seeing morning the ayes are 100, the nays are 0. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, a motion to reconsider is considered made and laid on the table, the president will be notified of the -- will be immediately notified of the senate's action, the senate will resume legislative session. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: may we have order. the majority leader. mr. reid: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to -- mrs. boxer: madam president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: will the senators please take your conversations out of the well of the senate. thank you. mr. reid: madam president, i have spoken to the republican leader fairly recently -- it's all relative time around here -- there will be no roll call votes tonight. no more roll call votes tonight. i now ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business until 6:30 p.m. tonight with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. it's my understanding that
senator coburn is not on the floor but i understand he wanted to speak for more than ten minutes. anybody know about that? so what time did he want to be recognized? i would ask that senator coburn be recognized at 5:30 for up to 30 minutes. mrs. boxer: reserving the right to object and i won't object. i would like to get 20 minutes to speak following senator coburn. mr. reid: sounds good to me. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: the rest of you senators will be limited to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, one of the things -- at 6:30, i would ask unanimous consent that i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection.
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. a senator: madam president, i understand that we're in morning hour, and i understand that i may speak on the senate floor for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. moran: i would ask that the quorum call be lifted.
the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from kansas. mr. moran: madam president, thank you very much. i've spoken several times over the last several weeks in regard to the issue at hand, and clearly the time continues to escape us in which the day of reckoning is coming in regard to the debt ceiling issue. and i've said from the very beginning that in my view it would be irresponsible not to raise the debt ceiling, but it would be as irresponsible if not more so, to raise the debt ceiling without reducing the spending, getting our books more in balance and moving us in the right direction toward a balanced budget in the future. i recognize that this can't be accomplished overnight, and i recognize that there are those who bring different points of view and perspective to the senate floor. this is a body of people who represent individuals who live in all 50 states and have points of view and philosophies and
background that are different than perhaps the constituents that i represent from the state of kansas. i've been a strong supporter of the legislation entitled cut, cap, and balance, and i actually believe that it's not just cut, cap, and balance. it's cut, cap, balance and grow that we could do so much for our country both in the fiscal sense -- the idea that we can better pay our bills if the revenues are increased by putting people to work, by creating an economic climate in which people can find jobs, people can improve their situation in regard to their job, and in the process of doing that the revenues increase to the federal treasury. it was back in the days of president clinton in which we came the closest to having our books balanced the most recent time. and while there was spending restraint and disagreement among republicans and democrats about new spending programs or bigger government, in my view, the real reason we had a balanced budget
was because the economy was growing. and so i again ask my colleagues to pay attention to the message what i believe was of the 2010 election. it's the economy. it's the desire for people to have a better life to, save money for their children's education, to save money for their retirement and to be able to be satisfied that the job they have today is and i believe there's a number of things we can do with regard to the regulatory environment, tax code fair and certain, a trade policy that allows to us increase exports both agriculture and manufactured goods and an energy policy that reduces our reliance upon foreign energy and gives us greater control over its costs. but i do believe that the time has come for us to reach an agreement and we anxiously await what action the house of representatives may take. and in light of the point in time that we're in, i wanted to share with my colleagues in the
senate a letter, an email i received from one of my constituents, a kansan named gina reynolds. gina is from shawnee and she expresses this point of view i think very appropriately for where we are today. and in asking gina if i could share with you what she wrote to me, she indicated this was the very first time she had ever written a member of congress. and here's what she had to say that i hope we will take into account. and again, while we bring philosophies and viewpoints, approaches to government to washington, d.c., in my view, there's an opportunity for common sense and good judgment to prevail. here's what she says. i firmly believe that the united states needs to start living within our means. however, i am frustrated beyond belief with the inability of congress to do their jobs and ensure that we do not throw the country back into recession. while i and my husband are employed, we feel lucky to have jobs.
we work hard, pay our taxes and try to raise our children the right way. it absolutely boggles my mind we cannot come to a compromise on the dlng debt ceiling issue that is so critical to the financial markets and the average american citizen. for it is us, the middle class, that will suffer the most. from lost jobs to lost 401(k)'s and lost savings. we need real tax reform, real entitlement form for even though i am 42 years old i do not believe i will ever see a dime of social security and real spending cuts. congress has had months to work on this issue and now the time is to act in the best interests of the people, not for the political interest groups and not for some ideology. it is sad to say but i honestly don't know if my children will have a better future than me. i know that there are a lot of tough decisions yet to be made regarding spending and taxes, but we only make it harder by defaulting on our country's
obligations. i am fiscally conservative and generally vote republican but i do not blindly follow any one path. i try to use my vote wisely and pledge my loyalty to my god and my country, not a political party. i believe we have the greatest country on earth, but our inability to compromise, to stop acting like spoiled children saddens me. the founding fathers were able to compromise and write a document that has stood the test of time for 235 years. can we not now do the same? please do the right thing for the american people, the ones frustrated and angry and hurt by the self-produced impasse. i want to thank gina reynolds for her message to me and members of the senate for taking the time to communicate with her united states senator, with me as a member of congress. and i think she in many ways expresses a conservative yet common sense point of view that so many kansans have and i often
think that we often -- i often think too many times we are caught in a circumstance that we find an inability to resolve. sometimes we are trapped by our political party and that in my view while we ought to have strong opinions and ought to have a solid philosophy, we need to make certain we're motivated for the right reasons and the good of america is at the forefront of our minds. i indicated in my maiden speech when i first spoke on the senate floor here now four months ago, as a new united states senator, that when i need a prospective as to what we need to do here and sometimes we get bogged down in those things that are a lot less important, i'll put my walking shoes on, my running shoes and i'll walk up to the lincoln memorial and now you go by the world war ii memorial, you walk on past the vietnam wall, and you walk back by the korean war memorial. and in each one of those locations i am reminded no
american memorialized in those settings fought and decide dyed, sacrificed for their country for purposes of republicans or democrats but because they believe they had an obligation to serve our country and because they believe that in that service they had the opportunity to make life better for their family and for future generations of americans. we need to remind ourselves, we need that perspective that it's not the fight between republicans and democrats, it's about doing the right thing for america. we owe our -- those who sacrificed in military service for our country and particularly those who died in this service that kind of obligation that we will do what is right. and i know my colleagues share that point of view. i think from time to time we need to be remind what had the focus must be and so, madam president, i again appreciate the sentiments expressed by this kansan, and i would indicate that we as american citizens and certainly me as a member of the united states senate, our
primary responsibility as citizens is to make certain that we pass on to the next generation of americans this country called the united states of america in which we maintain the freedoms and liberties guaranteed by our constitution and that we allow the next generation of americans, our children, our grandchildren, and young men and women yet to be born, people we don't even know, the opportunity to pursue the american dream. and i think this kansas constituent of mine has expressed those sentiments very well and i look forward to working with my colleagues to see that we dolt right thing for the future of our nation and that the next generation of americans can also pursue the thing we all idolize and believe in: the american dream. i yield back, madam president. mr. warner: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: let me first of all compliment my friend and colleague, the senator from
kansas, for his comments and for his approach. he made a few comments there that we haven't heard enough of in this chamber or in the other chamber in the last few days. he said that before he was a democrat or before he was a republican, he was an american. i want to compliment him on those sentiments and i want to rise in that same vein because whether you're somebody from kansas, somebody from north carolina, or the folks i hear from in virginia, they keep saying, why can't you guys get this thing done? why can't you both be willing to give a little to put our country first? i never thought i'd say, as somebody who had the honor of serving as governor of virginia and somebody who served -- was a business guy for 20 years, i never thought i'd be standing on
the floor of the senate six days, five and a half days away from the united states of america potentially defaulting on our obligations. and yet most of the debate -- lord knows, almost all of the press conferences -- have less been about solutions and more been about who's to blame. folks in the gallery, people watching at home, or like most americans trying to get through an unbearably hot summer, you wonder who are these folks that we hired to get the people's business done. you know, i have been involved with a group of senators, and i want to -- over the last nine months that have done something that i didn't think was
extraordinary but unfortunately in today's day and life is pretty extraordinary. a group of democratic and republican senators who said, the most important issue we face in our country is to try to get our debt and deficit under control and who've said the only way that we can get that under control is to sit together for hours on end, reason together, argue, do something that's perhaps i think basically as american as compromise. and after months and months of back and forth and then last tuesday when we revealed that so-called plan -- which frankly the gang of six, which was built upon the work of a previous year of work of democrats and republicans and independents and business leaders, the president's deficit commission -- a remarkable thing happened for a couple of days in this body. instead of everybody coming out and saying why this couldn't happen, they said, hey, it isn't
perfect but this actually would lower our deficit by close to $4 trillion, take on tax reform, take on entitlement reform, cut spending, and might just be a path out. well, that lasted a couple days and then we got back to who was going to score points in the next 24-hour news segment. well, i desperately hope and pray that at this moment in our country that we will rise to the task and make sure that with the eyes not of the nation but of the world on us that we do our basic job to make sure the united states of america doesn't default next tuesday. the only way i think we're going to get there is if we lower the rhetoric, lower the fingerpointsing, recognizing it's going to take ideas from both sides.
but it is going to take a change in attitude from some. there was a congressman who gave a press conference sometime in the last day or two who quoted -- paraphrased winston churchill. and i said, we're going to fight you on the beaches, we're going to fight on the sea, we're going it fight you in the air to make structural changes in the way the place known as washington, d.c., operates. who is the "you" he's going to fight? he's going to fight people that say maybe america and americans want us to actually work together and compromise? i mean, this kind eve of sentimt goes beyond the pale at a moment when our nation is in this kind of crisis. there's been a lot of talk recently, especially coming from the other body, about the only
way to solve this problem is an amendment, a constitutional amendment. well, i'd point out that 49 states got that kind of amendment, you got to balance your books. my state of virginia, the presiding officer officer's state, north carolina. there are an awful lot of states that have got that kind of amendment in place, and i don't know what kind of accounting they use, but i've not heard many folks point to california's state budget and say, that's a balanced budget. so some kind of process argument here isn't going to solve the problem. we've got to make the hard choices. we got to cut spending. we got to reform our entitlements. we got to reform our tax code, generate additional revenues. the numbers don't lie. we're spend at an all-time high. 25% of our g.d.p. -- we're collecting revenues at an historic low, 16% of g.d.p. it doesn't take a rocket
scientist to figure out that anytime our nation's budget has been in relative bug, it's been when we've been roughly between spend and revenues between 19% and 20.5%. why can't we come together to put plan in place that does that? folks who are watching say there actually i is a plan that more than a third of the senate says we'll be with you. instead we're going back and forth, ping-pong, who's going to have which plan, who's glg to win each day? it's also pretty remarkable that the moment of time -- i don't know who this congressman is or what his particular issue is, but when you've got roughly a fifth of the house who say they're on record that they will never vote to increase the debt, i wonder when they took the oath to uphold the laws of our country which say we've got to
pay our bills, how that commitment matches with those promises? or that's political positions? my sense is if they want to have an amendment to the constitution, what they are advocating -- this we will never change, our way or the highway approach -- the amendment they ought to be talking about is basically restructuring our whole constitution and turning our government into a parliamentary system. there are a lost places around. if you win an election, you get to choose the chief executive, you get to control the legislature, you can path anything you want. yet these very same folks are the ones who say, we want to support our constitution. well, the constitution and the genius of our constitution was the fact that the founders said the most basic american principle was checks and balances. you got a house, you got a senate. you got a president. and actually they got to work together.
somehow th the attitude again of some of these members in the house, which is our way or let's drive our country over the cli cliff, is as dramatically un-american as anything i've ever seen. and at the same time we hear other members who say, well, maybe we just need a little more economic shock to make us do the right thing. what are these folks thinking of? the stock market closed down 200 points today. it's been down about 400 points this week. an awful lot of americans who only now are starting to recover from the financial crisis of two years ago. an awful lot of retirees who saw their 401(k)'s plummet two years ago that slowly have seen that
nest egg that's going to get them through retirement or rough times recover. we're down 400 points. how much more stock market decline do we need before we all have the cover to do the right thing? 1,000 points? we need to put another million americans out of work? do we need to throw more people out of their homes because of the tax increase that will result, the real increase that will result with a rise in interest rates that'll happen next week? and there are others who say, well, let's just do short-term, let's kick the can down for a short while. something is being discussed in the house -- i -- doesn't matter whether it is democrat or republican. it matters because that approach will result in a lowering of our debt rating. i know people's eyes glaze over when you hear about debt
ratings. there are other countries in the world with a aaa debt rating. that means that we are kind of the gold standard. we have that debt rating reduced, it is not only a black eye for america, it not only means that what we have to pay in interest rates will go up, not just the government, but if you got a school bond, a state bond, those are going to go up, you got an auto loan, a home mortgage, a student loan, you are a business trying to expand your business, the cost of that is all going to go up. the very same folks who say, well, we will never look at more revenues, don't seem to mind at all that if we have to have an interest rate rise because of a default or a downgrade of our debt, doesn't that take more money out of our americans' pockets? i just don't get it.
so i do hope and frankly i -- the presiding officer knows i've been pretty obsessed about this issue for months on end. i do hope that we will check our democrat and republican hats. i agree with what my colleague, the senator from kansas said. when we get out of bed tomorrow, we get out of bed not as democrats and republicans, as americans first. we not only get over the debt limit, which hopefully through some convoluted process we will, but we also recognize that getting past august 2 doesn't mean, okay, we're done. everybody go have a nice august. all that does is buy us a bit of time to decide whether we're going to come back to the really hard issues of not only how we start with some spending cuts -- which will be part of our down payment -- but how we really make sure that t